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Full text of "St. Olave's"

OF THE 
UNIVERSITY 
Of ILLINOIS 

8Z3 

S*38s 

v.l 



ST. OLAVE'S 



VOL. I. 



ST. L A T E'S. 



'Live for to-day ! to-morrow's light 
To-morrow's cares shall bi-ing to sight, 
Go, sleep like closing flowers at night, 
And Heaven thy morn will bless." 



IN THREE VOLUMES. 
VOL. I. 



LONDON : 
HURST AND BLACKETT, PUBLISHERS, 

SUCCESSORS TO HENRY COLBURN, 

13, GREAT MARLBOROUGH STREET. 

1863. 

The right of Translation is reserved. 



DALZIEL. BROTHERS, CaMPEN PRESS, LONDON. 



S£3 



/./ v 



- 



ST. OLAVE'S. 



r 



CHAPTER I. 

^fflROTHER!^ 
^pj No reply. 
Wm " Brother Davie.- 
Still no reply. 

Janet Bruce looked at the clock over the 
mantel-piece, and then went on with her knitting, 
a quaint, half-amused expression creeping into 
her face. 

A quiet face it was, out of which all that the 
world calls joy had long ago been quenched, and 
upon which there rested the benediction that 
comes when joy has gone — even peace. 

VOL. I. B 



A face where passionate feeling, either of grief 
or gladness, would never come again. You might 
tell by a single glance that the soul which looked 
through those still eyes had passed the worst 
that could be passed of human sorrow — and 
conquered too. It was a face which expressed 
nothing now but a certain grave, sweet serious- 
ness, whose very smile was full of calm, and as 
for laughing — but who ever saw Janet Bruce 
laugh ? 

The rest of the figure was an exact match to 
the face; neat — exquisitely neat, but lacking all 
those graces and innocent little shifts of vanity 
wherewith happy women love to deck themselves. 
There was no attempt at style about the grey 
Llama dress, falling in soft motionless folds to the 
floor ; nothing piquant and "natty " in the white 
linen collar with its simple bow of tartan ribbon. 
No one could say that more than needful time 
had been spent in the arrangement of the black 
hair — crisp and glossy yet — which was gathered 
loosely from the forehead and fastened behind 
under a knot of velvet. You looked in vain, too, 
for jewels, in the shape of pin, brooch, or stud ; 
anything that sparkled would clearly enough have 



ST. olave's. 3 

been out of place on that sombre, grey-like back- 
ground. 

Miss Bruce was matter of fact, — intensely 
matter of fact ; that was the very expression to 
designate her outer life in all its phases and 
manifestations. Of the inner one, no sign was 
ever given. The springiness and romance of life 
suddenly wrenched away from her, she buried 
their memory once and for ever in a grave that 
no resurrection could open. Instead of weeping 
over the past, as most do, she turned resolutely 
away from it, gathered up the countless little 
cares and duties still remaining, and out of these 
wove the rest of her life, making it, if not 
beautiful, at least useful and serviceable. Putting 
away as something no longer needed, all hope or 
longing, she did the best she could to walk 
worthily in the track placed before her, which 
was that of a quiet maiden lady. 

There are many Janet Brace's in the world ; 
God bless them wherever they may be ! Jostled, 
smiled at, ridiculed, ignored, forgotten, — God 
bless them still ! For there is nothing so noble, 
— nothing half so noble — as that a woman who 
has been what society calls "disappointed,'" 

b 2 



should thus unselfishly shut down .the memory 
of early grief, and take the weal of others to be 
henceforth her care ; day by day, unacknowledged 
and unthanked, dropping kindly deeds and plea- 
sant words into a world where for her there is no 
home, no fireside place; where none calls her 
dearest, none calls her best. We shall find one 
day that no martyr's crown is brighter than that 
which Jesus will give to these patient ones of 
whom on earth we took so little heed. 

Miss Bruce was sitting in the low, old- 
fashioned window seat, knitting a dainty little 
white sock, her chief employment when she was 
not mending the household linen, or going 
leisurely about her daily domestic duties. What 
might be the destination of these useful articles, 
as pair after pair was narrowed off and com- 
pleted, no one could tell, save perhaps some 
needy mother in the Tract district. For Miss 
Bruce had no nieces and nephews, no baby 
cousins and godchildren among whom to dis- 
tribute them. Her only relative in all the wide 
world was this brother Davie, who sat at the table 
half- smothered in a pile of manuscript music, 
and murmuring to himself in an under tone — 



5 

" The cliorcl of the dominant seventh to be 
changed into the chord of the extreme sharp 
sixth, by changing dominant F into E sharp, so 
bringing the melody into F sharp major. Alto 
voice to commence." 

Miss Bruce looked up at the timepiece again, 
then out into the garden, where the sunlight had 
already began to make long slanting shadows 
upon the grass. Then she put down her knitting, 
and laid her hand gently upon her brother's 
shoulder. 

Don't fancy, courteous reader, that she is going 
to say anything remarkable, to him. Miss Bruce 
never said anything remarkable in her life. 

" Davie, it's half-past six, and Miss Grey will 
be here to tea at seven. You really must go 
and change your coat, and put another collar 
on." 

David shook himself, and pushed aside a quan- 
tity of tangled grey hair, thereby bringing to 
view a steady, set, "no surrender" sort of face. 
He began to consider his coat, a loose study wrap, 
already betraying symptoms of seediness at the 
elbows ; certainly not the style of costume in 
which to receive a stranger, especially if that 



6 ST. OLAVE S. 

stranger chanced to be a young lady of graceful 
presence and aristocratic connections. 

" Who did you say was coming, Jeanie?" 

" Alice Grey, the niece of that old lady, 
Mistress Amiel Grey, who lives in the Cathedral 
Close." 

" You mean that pleasant old lady who asked 
you to tea a month ago ; the same who comes to 
morning prayers sometimes, and has a face just 
like one of Mozart's Masses." 

Miss Bruce looked puzzled. Not being given 
to the use of figurative language herself, she was 
at a loss to comprehend it from others. 

" I don't know about Mrs. Amiel Grey's face 
looking like a Mass, Davie ; but it is a very kind 
face, and she always wears a clear-starched 
widow's cap, with a plaited frill coming down 
under the chin, like that picture of our grand- 
mother." 

David and Janet turned involuntarily to the 
portrait of an old lady which hung over the 
piano. The clear chiselling of the face, together 
with the finely moulded hands and taper fingers, 
indicated high descent and noble blood. He 
looked at it until an unquiet expression came 



into his rugged face ; but after a single glance 
Miss Bruce returned to the subject in hand. 

"That old black tie of yours, Davie, I should 
like you to change it too. I have no doubt, as 
you say, it's gey comfortable, but it really 
doesn't do to receive company in. You'll find a 
new one that I bought you last week in your 
dressing-table drawer, — black corded silk, with 
violet spots. And mind how you tie it, Davie, 
for you haven't had it on before ; and if they get 
a wrong set the first time you can never make 
them look nice afterwards. And about the collar, 
don't get one of those marked < Napoleon.' 
They're just a thought too wide for you, and 
don't fit exactly behind. I must have them 
sorted." 

Miss Bruce gave all these directions with the 
same quiet, earnest gravity which she would have 
used in dictating her will, or giving evidence in a 
court of justice. There were not many points of 
interest in her life now, and one of them was that 
her brother should be well cared for in everything 
to which her oversight could reach. 

" You're just a continual plague to me, Jeanie," 
but as David said the words he took the hand 



8 ST. OLAVE'S. 

which still rested on his shoulder, and drawing it 
to him, leaned his cheek down upon it in a quiet 
unconscious sort of way which betrayed how 
natural the gesture was. 

" I was getting on fine with this alto solo, and 
if I put it away, the thoughts will never come 
back in the same track. I wish you hadn't asked 
any one. I'll be sair weary the night if she stays 
long. What did you say her name is ?" 

" Alice Grey." 

"Alice Grey; it's a bonnie name, and what 
like is she ?" 

"Well, I've only seen her once without her 
bonnet, for she was away when I went to the Old 
Lodge. But she is a pleasant girl, very lady-like. 
You know her aunt belongs to one of the best 
families in St. Olave's, and she has a nice 
manner." 

Here Miss Bruce paused, having nothing more 
to say in the way of elucidation. She was by no 
means skilful in the art of delineating character. 

"Well, it can't be helped. She is the first 
lady who has taken tea with us since we came 
here, and how long is that ago ? It wasn't so in 
Scotland , Jeanie." 



ST. olave's. 9 

Miss Bruce ignored the latter part of the sen- 
tence. 

11 Three months, Davie, just. You know we 
left Perth at the spring cleaning time/'' 

<c And we've lived very quietly ever since. I 
don't think anybody cares for us here. Is that as 
God intended it to be, Jeanie V 3 

"\ daresay there are a great many things in 
this world as God never intended them to be, 
Davie/' and with that Miss Bruce drew her hand 
gently out of his, and began to clear away the 
scattered music sheets. Her brother took the 
hint, gave one more wistful look at his manu- 
scripts, and then went away to dress for the 
expected visitor. 

When he was gone Janet began to " sort the 
room." She was the very soul of neatness, not 
indeed one of those monstrosities of method who 
seem to have been born with a dusting brush in 
their hands, and think no perfume equal to that 
of yellow soap, no music so sweet as the rattle 
of moving mrniture ; yet somehow there gathered 
round her, wherever she went, an atmosphere of 
tidiness, so that quietly and without any show of 
effort, things seemed to fall into their right places. 



10 ST. olave's. 

She began with the table where David had 
been sitting, and pnt the loose sheets of music 
back into the portfolio. Then she gathered up 
his pencils and one or two old pens which he had 
thrown upon the floor. This was done with a 
tender, loving carefulness, her hands lingering 
over the work, her face wearing a contented, 
peaceful smile. This brother of hers was the 
only outlet for any home kindness she had to 
give, and it was given very reverently. When 
the table was cleared, she went round the room, 
giving little touches of arrangement here and 
there, and looking often at the timepiece, whose 
hands were fast approaching the stroke of seven. 

It was a pleasant room, such as one sees in 
old-fashioned, well-built houses. The window, 
which was broad and low, and draperied with 
curtains of drab moreen, looked out upon a 
wide plot of grass, spotted with buttercups and 
daisies. In the centre of this plot was a great 
sun-dial, half covered with moss, the gnomon 
tangled over with wild convolvolus and clusters of 
briony. Round it wound a broad gravel walk, 
and beyond that a second grass plot, bounded by 
a belt of linden trees, whose branches shut out 



ST. OLAVE'S. 11 

all view of the road, except where space was left 
for the gate. From this gateway the entire East 
front of the Cathedral, with the grand sweep of 
its arched window conld be clearly seen. 

As for the interior of the Westwood sitting- 
room, it was furnished simply enough, for David 
Bruce was only just beginning to make his way 
in the world, and hard work he found it. The 
carpet of crimson ground, interlaced with a small 
running pattern of black, was somewhat worn, 
and to judge from sundry side piecings had not 
originally been intended for its present place. 
Upon the square table, which stood near the 
window, was a crimson cloth, embroidered round 
the border with armorial bearings, in old- 
fashioned cross and tent stitch. The paper was 
very pretty, fresh and spring-like — a silvery grey 
background, traced over with tiny leaves and 
tendrils. There was no cornice to the ceiling, 
for it had been made before this modern device 
came into fashion ; but to supply its place was a 
belt of crimson scroll pattern. A very plain 
looking piano stood in one corner, open now with 
.music — chiefly cathedral music — upon it, and a 
little Parian statuette of Beethoven on a bracket 



12 ST. olave's. 

just above. The only costly thing in the room 
was an oval mirror over the fire-place, with a 
massive carved oak border, where leaves, fruit 
and flowers, twined and intertwined in rank 
luxuriance, and stood out in bold relief against 
the light background of the paper. In one 
corner by the piano, carefully heaped together, 
were piles of music, volumes of chants, old brown 
leather bound folios of anthems, mixed with loose 
sheets of manuscript and counterpoint exercises. 

But over all the room there was a strange and 
very noticeable feeling of stillness. It spoke 
unconsciously, as most rooms do, the character of 
its occupants, and gave a distinct impression of 
seclusion and self-containment. It could be no 
busy, many-coloured, painfully anxious life which 
was lived here. No gleam of brightness could 
stay very long \ any shadow of sorrow would be 
softened too, if not entirely veiled by that unmis- 
takable presence of repose that was felt as soon 
as you crossed the threshold. If the thick clus- 
tering vine and jasmine leaves which grew over 
the trellis outside the window kept the sunlight 
from coming through, except in fitful, wandering 
streaks, they also hid the angry storms and black 



ST. olave's. 13 

thunder clouds of summer time ; and these leaves 
but symbolized others that seemed to gather 
round and shelter the place from the keen light 
and shadow, the blinding sunshine and the brood- 
ing fog, which rest by turns on most human 
lives. 

Scarcely had Mr. Bruce made his appearance, 
got up in suitable broadcloth, finished off by the 
abovementioned black tie, with violet spots, when 
there was a tread of light footsteps on the gravel 
walk outside, a dainty knock at the front door, 
and then, side by side with grey robed matter-of- 
fact Janet Bruce, bringing with her into that 
quiet room a strange waft of brightness, there 
stood a fair English-looking maiden of noble 
presence and soft, pleasant voice. And she bent 
half-shyly, half-serenely as her hostess pro- 
nounced the words — 

"My brother — Miss Alice Grey." 

Poor Alice ! if she had only known how sorry 
he was to see her. 






CHAPTER II. 



|HE was a frank, winsome girl of 
eighteen, or thereabouts. Not pretty, 
exactly, for her features were none of 
them moulded with that perfect symmetry which 
artists and sculptors love to copy. Still, Alice 
Grey's was a pleasant face. The lines of it were 
yet unformed, changed by every passing mood of 
feeling, scarcely cast into any fixed mould by the 
strong working of the soul within, but just 
reflecting the sunlight and shade that passed 
over it. Such a face as middle-aged people look 
at tenderly, almost sadly, because they know how 
surely before many years have passed, sorrow, 
that inalienable heritage of humanity, shall 
fashion it into higher, more perfect beauty 
There was not much repose in her countenance ; 



15 

it was bright, quick, eager, expectant, and the 
glance of her wide opened eyes was full of 
unspoken questionings — unspoken only because 
life as yet had taught her no language wherein to 
express them. 

David Bruce could not say for certain whether, 
confusedly waking out of that pleasant music 
dream which had occupied him all the time of his 
toilet, he took the white hand of the visitor in his 
own, or merely bowed in acknowledgment of 
Janet's precise and somewhat formal introduction. 
As was his wont with strangers, he gave but a 
slight glance towards the face uplifted to him, a 
glance so slight indeed that any impression which 
it might have produced soon faded out of his 
thoughts, and left them free to wander in their own 
track. After tea — a genuine Scottish tea it was, 
in which scones and oat-cake formed a prominent 
part of the entertainment — he betook himself to 
the copying of some chants that had to be ready 
for morning service at the Cathedral, only from 
time to time contributing a stray word or two to 
the conversation which was going on at the other 
side of the room. 

Miss Bruce had resumed her knitting and was 



16 

working away with that steady mechanical per- 
tinacity that had become habitual to her. But 
a half perceptible ruffle now and then upon her 
face, or a somewhat nervous twitch of her needles, 
indicated that she was not quite at ease in the 
duty of entertaining unaccustomed guests. Alice 
Grey, finding that the hostess was inclined to be 
industrious, followed her example, and produced 
from a little pink -lined work case, a bit of white 
cashmere, — it might be a pin-cushion or a watch- 
pocket, or some other piece of feminine handicraft, 
— upon which she began to weave a graceful 
design in braid work, not seemingly after any set 
pattern, but only as her own skill and fancy led. 
Just the sort of work that expressed herself. 

Two more different types of womanhood, it 
would have been hard to find. Janet Bruce, still, 
staid, self-contained, even-tinted as a landscape 
over which the grey twilight has come ; and Alice, 
with her affluence of youth and hope, like that 
same landscape steeped in the brightening hues of 
sunrise. One looking forth with sure expectancy 
to coming joy, the other knowing it no longer but 
in memory. 

Miss Grey was not yet, according to techni- 



ST. olave's. 17 

cal phrase, " out ;" she had not emerged from the 
coverture of home life into the great arena of social 
display, and was therefore unprivileged to assume 
the insignia of full-blown young ladyhood. Still, 
though there was neither sheen of silk nor sparkle of 
jewels about her, she made a pretty enough picture 
as she sat there in the broad low window seat, the 
slant rays of sunshine trickling through the 
curls of her golden brown hair, and making the 
shadows of the vine leaves play softly to and fro 
upon her cheek and neck. She wore a dress of 
light blue muslin, full and flowing, that showed 
like a bit of Italian sky in the sombre room. Its 
only ornament was a gleaming coil of black jet 
fastening the girdle, and into which she had 
woven a few sprays of white heath. 

Perhaps the word that best described Alice 
Grey was the one which suggested itself to Janet's 
thought as she watched her sitting there in the 
sunlight. She was just " bonnie." Not hand- 
some, not fascinating, not stylish nor distingue, 
but simply "bonnie." The sort of character that 
strong men pet and caress, that they love to have 
near them, and which little by little twines round 
the rugged branches of their nature, covering 

vol. i. c 



18 ST. olave's. 

them with beauty and fragrance. There was 
something so frank and fresh and girlish about 
her, such a fitful maiden-like freedom in her ways, 
such an unschooled gracefulness in her simple 
speech. A nature hers was that would have to be 
tamed down very much as years passed on ; one 
that would have to learn much, perhaps to suffer 
much, before it could run smoothly along in the 
beaten track of life. 

But whatever rank untamed luxuriance there 
might be about her, was not so perceptible to- 
night, for the indescribably quiet atmosphere 
that surrounded the elder lady appeared to have 
enveloped Alice also, and there was a sort of 
conscious hesitation about her manner, the faint- 
est little tinge of shyness, which perhaps by-and- 
by made Mr. Bruce lift his eyes from the yellow 
old folio of chants to that corner where she sat, 
more frequently than he would have done had she 
been one of those carefully trimmed, admirably 
self-possessed specimens of young ladyhood which 
the cathedral city of St. Olave's usually produced. 

The two ladies had the conversation mostly to 
themselves. It trickled pleasantly on over the com- 
monplace subjects that rise of their own accord 



st. olave's. 19 

between women who know each other but slightly ; 
women who are neither very intellectual nor 
profoundly subjective. Innocent, peaceful, home- 
like chit-chat it was, about the daily little cares 
and pleasures and belongings of life, about amu- 
sing books, the most wholesome food for canaries 
and gold fish, the best way of cultivating flowers, 
the pretty walks round St. Olave's, and so on ; 
dropping now and then into silence, broken only 
by the motion of Miss Bruce's needles, and the 
scratching of her brother's pen over the paper. 

The evening wore on. The flush of sunset 
that had long ago crept out of the room, died off 
from the lower branches of the linden trees which 
bounded the garden, stretching up and up until 
at last it rested like a golden diadem on the 
topmost leaves, and then faded quite away. The 
talk died out as it often does when twilight comes ; 
and Alice's busy little fingers glided no longer 
over her braiding work, but lay folded together 
upon her lap, or toyed with the vase of fern leaves 
and harebells which stood in the window-seat near 
her. Miss Bruce knitted on systematically ; in 
sunlight, twilight, or no light at all, she wi is 
equally industrious. Her brother had left his 

c 2 



20 st. olave's. 

music and with folded arms stood on the other 
side of the wide old-fashioned window, looking out 
into the garden, and gathering up thoughts per- 
haps as he often did in quiet hours, for the Ora- 
torio he was composing. So little by little with 
the deepening evening, a dead silence came down 
upon all three of them. 

Truly they were a demure couple this brother 
and sister, most at home in the solitude of an 
undisturbed fireside, and certainly not apt at enter- 
taining visitors, either with the feast of reason or 
the flow of soul. Perhaps Alice thought so, 
for something like a stifled yawn flitted over her 
face and she began to fold up her work. It had 
not been a brilliant evening to say the best of it ; 
scarcely so chatty, and certainly not so lively, as 
she would have spent at home with Aunt Amiel. 
When her silks were safely packed away in the 
rose-lined satchel, she said — 

" Mr. Bruce, will you play me something before 
I go?" 

David started, he was lost in the workings of a 
fugue ; but he gave himself a shak e, and then 
with a quiet professional sort of air, not staying to 
ask what style of music she liked best, he went to 



ST. olave's. 21 

the piano and began to play what the publishers 
call a "piece de resistance," a grand musical 
passage of arms, full of runs and shakes and 
thunderclaps of sound; such a composition as puts 
young ladies who are "passionately fond of music" 
into an ecstacy. 

When it was over, and David was biting his 
lips in expectation of a hurricane of compliments, 
she said " Thank you," but the words were spoken 
in a half unsatisfied tone, covering more of dis- 
appointment than pleasure, and were not followed 
by any rapturous outcries of "sweetly pretty,"—- 
" charming execution," — " perfect love of a 
piece," such as he was accustomed to receive 
from the generality of lady auditors. 

David looked at her a good while from beneath 
the shadow of his overhanging eyebrows. In the 
half darkness of the room he could do this and 
not be rude. 

" Well, did you like it ?" he asked at last. 

" No," she replied quietly, "not much." 

He was pleased. 

" Shall I try something else ?" and then with- 
out waiting for a reply, he began to play one of 
Mendelssohn's " Lieder," the first in the fifth 



22 st. olave's. 

book, — that still, dreamy, wavelike, rippling song 
that seems to go floating on through mossy banks 
and under green leaves, now and then flashing 
out into sunshine, sometimes leaping impetuously 
forward from note to note, widening out at last 
into a clear, even, unbroken deep of sound. 

As he played on, Alice leaned forward, then rose 
to her feet and step by step came quite close to 
the piano, so close that her dress touched him, and 
he could feel her breath upon his cheek. Before 
he finished, Tibbie came in to say that Miss 
Grey's maid was waiting to take her home. 

"Not yet Miss Brace, please, not yet," said 
Alice, never moving her eyes from the piano; "let 
me hear all this first." 

" Send her back Tibbie," David said abruptly, 
" and say that we will see Miss Grey safely 
home." 

Janet looked surprised but said nothing, and 
Tibbie went away. David played on to where the 
music ended, as all those " Lieder " do, in a few 
short fluttering upward notes. Alice gave him no 
word of thanks this time, but her fast clasped hands 
and quick eager breath told him that it was great 
joy to her to listen. Then he began a slow move- 



st. olave's. 23 

ment full of harmonies, like the old German 
chorales, marching on from phrase to phrase with 
grave majestic stateliness, then pausing and drifting 
off into a quaint melody, and after awhile with a few 
wandering notes coming back to the old track 
again ; music that seemed to have no set purpose 
or sustained thought, but was just vague, sweet, 
fanciful. 

When David Bruce played, it seemed a pity he 
should ever do anything else. Each passing mood 
of feeling, each breeze of impulse that crossed the 
soul, he could reach and imprison in music. So 
that listening to him was like reading some sweet 
poem in which our own thoughts, clothed for us 
by the poet's skill in grand and noble language, 
meet us with old familiar faces. Wandering on 
through track after track of melody, the whole 
aspect of his countenance began to change. As a 
man who knows that he stands in his own place, 
gains power and dignity, so David Bruce in his 
music-world became a prince, and no longer an 
odd, awkward, ungainly piece of humanity such as 
society in general took him for. The wrinkles 
smoothed out from his great forehead, his eyes 
grew full of love and tenderness, his face became 



24 st. olave's. 

as it were the face of an angel. The only time 
Janet ever dropped her work and sat with idle 
fingers, was when this sort of music dream came 
over her brother, and then she would watch him 
by the hour together. 

But Alice standing close by him could not see 
this, for the twilight that had gathered so 
thickly over them both. She could only feel that 
this man, rugged, uncouth as he had seemed to 
her an hour ago, had access to a life far above 
hers, and that in his music there was a strange 
power which seemed to reveal her to herself. 

Little by little he was lifting her out of her 
pleasant world of girlish fancies, into one quite 
new and untried. With just her own aimless way 
of following every passing mood of thought, she 
stepped into his grand, solemn track, and now she 
began to feel bewildered in it. 

Still he played on. All in the room grew faint 
and shadowy, and he felt the notes rather than 
saw them. At last with a few bars of very sweet, 
hymn-like music, he paused. 

" Ah," said Alice in a half- whisper, " I re- 
member that ; you played it at the Minster last 
Sunday after the morning service, and I staid 



st. olave's. 25 

behind to listen to it. I dreamed it all over again 
that same night, and tried to play it for myself. 
It is a great rest to listen to it." 

David was pleased; it was part of an alto solo 
for his own Oratorio, but he did not tell her so. 
Just then the Cathedral bells struck ten, and 
Tibbie brought in the lamp. Its light showed Alice 
kneeling by the piano, her hands clasped over 
some music books, her young face full of reverence 
and wonder; David with shut eyes and fingers 
yet wandering lovingly upon the keys, Miss Bruce 
knitting peacefully on in her low chair by the 
window, the old quiet look upon her face, the 
little white sock nearly finished. 

And then David took Alice Grey home. 



"Brother" said Janet, as they sat together an 
hour later, when Tibbie had locked the doors and 
tramped up stairs to bed, and nothing was heard 
but the chirp of a solitary cricket on the kitchen 
hearth — " Brother, I think we got over the even- 
ing pretty well on the whole." 

David took his sister's hand and leaned his 
cheek down upon it. They often used to sit in 
this way at night. 



26 st. olave's. 

" We got over the evening pretty well after all, 
Davie." 

"Yes." 

' ( I was sorry abont your being disturbed with 
your composing, and having to walk home with 
Miss Grey too, but as things turned out it could 
not be helped, and I daresay we need not ask any 
one to tea for some time." 

But David said nothing. 



CHAPTER III. 




Ifllj T. OLAVE'S was an ancient little city, 

i 

j a very ancient little city. It had reached 

faSfigJffl middle life before William of Normandy 
cut his first tooth ; it was a lusty growing place 
in the time of the Caesars, and as for its birthday, 
a Chinese historian could scarcely have lighted 
upon a date remote enough for that interesting 
event. Within its three square miles of municipal 
territory, it enclosed a Cathedral, an Abbey, Roman 
towers out of count, ruins sufficient to stock Great 
Britain with rockeries, besides some twelve or 
fourteen antiquated churches ; and last, but not 
least, as much family pride and hereditary dignity 
as would have served half a dozen towns of 
moderate pretensions. 

What the Apostle Paul might have said had he 



28 st. olave's. 

been privileged to follow his tent-making craft 
beneath the shadow of its grey old Minster towers, 
is a question which well-disposed people will not 
press too closely; seeing that by the starched 
maiden ladies and gowned ecclesiastical magnates 
who inhabited the Cathedral precincts, any unlucky 
wight whom stern necessity compelled to ' ' labour 
with his own hands, working the thing that is 
honest," — in modern parlance, a tradesman, artizan, 
or handworker of any kind, was held in profound- 
est contempt, excluded from the pale of genteel 
society, and excommunicated from all rights and 
privileges of the beau monde. But things have 
changed mightily since the good old times of St. 
Paul, whether for better or worse, we presume not to 
say; and doubtless many a one to whom that chiefest 
of the apostles would have held out the right hand 
of fellowship, beholding in him a child of the 
kingdom, and an heir of glory, was kept at arm's 
length by the good folk of the cathedral city of 
St. Olave's,. and stigmatized as " an exceedingly 
low person — in fact, no sort of society at all." 

It was a quaint, old-fashioned little city, with 
scarcely a street in which you could draw a 
straight line from one end to the other. Very rich, 



st. olave's. 29 

too, it was in winding lanes, and curious tumble- 
down houses, with gables sticking out in all sorts 
of places where, according to modern canons of 
taste, gables ought not to stick out. There were 
many alleys in which the stories of the old lath- 
and -plaster tenements projected one over the 
other, until from the topmost windows people on 
opposite sides of the street might shake hands 
with each other. In the central part of the city 
there was great store of courts and closes, quite 
ignored by genteel people, and chiefly sought into 
by self-denying tract distributors, and city mis- 
sionaries, or more frequently still, by poor-law 
guardians, and police officers. Centuries ago this 
had been the aristocratic quarter of the place. 
Kings and princes once pillowed their heads 
beneath the roofs that now sheltered the haunts 
of squalid beggary. Even yet the antiquarian, 
coming to St. Olave's in search of materials for a 
paper in the "Archaeological Journal," and pick- 
ing his way, pocket-book in hand, through heaps 
of vegetable refuse, and piles of dirty children, 
would stumble upon grand, time-worn houses, the 
exuviae of bygone generations ; houses with 
massive sculptured doorways, broad oaken stair- 



30 

cases, and Tudor windows, canopied once with 
many- coloured arras and gleaming cloth of gold, 
but whose only drapery now was a string of ragged 
pinafores hung out to dry, watched by equally 
ragged mothers, who leaned their gaunt red elbows 
on the carved stone-work, where, a couple of hun- 
dred years ago, the jewelled hands of courtiers 
were wont to rest. 

But besides these crumbling relics of worn-out 
respectability that seemed to invest with an air 
of romance the squalid belongings which later 
years had crusted over them, there were other and 
dim old whispers of antiquity reaching farther 
back still. St. Olave's was very rich in remains — 
Saxon, Eoman, Norman, Mediaeval, all sorts of 
remains. Scarcely a week passed without some 
old-world curiosity struggling into daylight, and 
being immortalized in a newspaper paragraph. 
The city commissioners could not (Jig a drain in 
any part of the place, but they came upon shat- 
tered fragments of tesselated pavement, once be- 
longing to some Koman citizen's house, or huge, 
hulking stone coffins, which farmers from the 
country bought, and turned into drinking 
troughs for horses. Every now and then, as the 



st. olave's. 31 

traveller threaded his way through the central 
portion of the city, he lighted on some ugly old 
postern, or maimed tower, or broken archway, 
which did not, as the poet says — 

" Charm the eye 
With hints of fair completeness," 

but quite the reverse. And if an inexperienced 
wretch from the country who had lately bought a 
house here, and settled in it, betook himself to a 
little harmless after-dinner diversion with spade 
and rake, in his garden, ten to one but he turned 
up some unpleasantly suggestive tooth or bone, 
or perhaps an entire grinning skull, that sent 
him helter-skelter into his parlour, with anything 
but an agreeable impression upon his mind. 

But such untoward occurrences only took place 
in the old part of the city. St. Olave's was a very 
cheerful residence for any one who, as the phrase 
goes, liked a quiet life. A sort of Zoar it was for 
elderly maiden ladies with long pedigrees and 
short purses, decayed gentlewomen, retired fami- 
lies, unbeneficed clergymen, and widows of aristo- 
cratic descent. For there was no trade stirring 
in the place. Let the wind blow from what 
quarter it chose, it brought no vulgar thick smoke, 



32 st. olave's. 

no sooty shower of smuts from manufactory 
chimneys, no stifling odour of heathenish com- 
pounds from chemical works and dye-houses. 
The people, too, were well-conducted, never did 
anything very much out of the way in one direc- 
tion or another ; never launched out into gigantic 
speculations, and then exploded with a crash ; 
never held violent political meetings ; never made 
sour faces at Government ; never thought of getting 
up Chartist associations, or questioning the legality 
of Church-rates ; never made demonstrations of 
any sort ; never flaunted through the streets with 
banners about free trade and cheap bread, as the 
folks did at the neighbouring manufacturing place 
of Millsmany ; never grew rabid at election times, 
or made a fuss about taxation ; — in short, never 
forgot that they lived beneath the shadow of a 
Cathedral, and had the episcopal benediction dis- 
pensed over them four times a year. 

And yet, notwithstanding its sober, ecclesiastical 
tone, there was wholesome gaiety in St. Olave's 
for those who could be content with homoeopathic 
doses of the same, administered sparingly, and at 
judicious intervals. Twice a year came the 
assizes, when the middle-class people bought new 



st. olave's. 33 

bonnets, and the servants got a holiday to go to 
Court ; when the sheriffs carriage lumbered 
pompously through the city, preceded by a guard 
of honour in breeches and bag wigs, and armed 
with tin halberds and hired trumpets. The 
County ball, too, in spring, when the Broad Street 
shops attired themselves in silks of fabulous 
beauty, and brocades which, as Miss Luckie said, 
coaxed the sovereigns out of your purse before 
you knew what you were about ; and the Hunt 
ball, later on in the year, when superbly whiskered 
gentlemen lounged about at the hotel doors, and 
women with majestic Norman faces floated down 
the streets. Nor was Euterpe without votaries. 
Now and then, when Covent Garden and the Hay- 
market had, composed themselves for their yearly 
nap, a company of artistes who were starring it in 
the provinces, would spare a night for St. Olave's, 
and then great was the roll of county carriages 
and the blaze of family diamonds. 

In addition to these episodes of gaiety, there 
was a yearly review of the barrack troops, and a 
very occasional regatta, and — crowning event of 
all — once in three years, a grand Festival in the 
Hall of Guild, when St. Olave's washed himself, put 

VOL. I. D 



34 

on his best suit, and turned out with his wife and 
family for a regular holiday. This triennial event 
served as a sort of Christianized Hegira for the 
inhabitants of the place, and had become an 
established tryst for dates and memories, "so 
many years come next Festival," being an autho- 
rized way of expressing any chronological occur- 
rence. 

But the place where the idiosyncracy of St. 
Olave's asserted itself most positively, the very 
nucleus and centre of aristocracy, the spot where 
gentility culminated, and exclusiveness attained its 
meridian, was the Cathedral Close, a few acres 
of green sward, dotted by lordly elm-trees, and 
intersected by winding gravel walks, which sur- 
rounded the Minster. 

Here the Bishop had his episcopal palace ; here 
the Canons Resident came and went within canon- 
ical limits j here, in cosy, warm-lined ecclesias- 
tical tenements, nourished the Prebends, Vicars- 
choral and Chanters. Here the widows and 
maiden sisters of departed Cathedral functionaries 
kept up their dignity in tall, antique, grey stone 
houses, that looked as severe and rigidly orthodox 
as their occupants. The very air had an aristo- 



st. olave's. 35 

cratic feel about it, a sensible hush and repose, 
and aroma of stateliness. The old elm -trees that 
skirted the Close, swayed their branches with 
grave, measured dignity, scorning to be blown to 
and fro like unconsecrated timber. The colony of 
rooks which from time immemorial had held lodg- 
ment behind the Chapter House, and amongst 
the topmost pinnacle uf the Broad Tower, pawed 
with a perceptible ecclesiastical monotone, as 
different as possible from the common-place pro- 
vincial dialect of their country cousins in the 
adjacent- hamlets. You felt an unmistakable 
waft of respectability as soon as you passed 
the ponderous iron gates that led into this 
sacred enclosure, a certain indefinable influence 
drifting over you from its grey old arches and 
cloisters, which said, as plain as any words could 
speak, ' ' the place is select." 

Select ; yes, that is just the very word that 
any person of discrimination would have used in 
describing the Close and its inhabitants. The 
place seemed to have got a patent for gentility. 
Vulgar people never turned in here for a walk. 
The shoals of trippers who poured into St. Okie's 
at Easter time, from the neighbouring maiiu- 

d 2 



facturing districts, ventured not to steer their 
flaunting draperies and apoplectic baskets of prog 
along its secluded walks, but contented themselves 
with reverent glances through the iron gates. 
Nurserymaids and children were tabooed, school- 
boys were prohibited from desecrating the place 
with tops or marbles, or other juvenile gear, and 
no wheels but those which belonged to private 
carriages had leave to waken its slumbering 
echoes. 

Such were the salient points of the aristocratic 
little city of St. Olave's, a city that had- been the 
cradle and the grave of dynasties of kings. More 
anon of the tide of life which worked and worried 
on within it. And always as you trod the narrow 
winding little streets, or tracked your path by 
crumbling gate and ruined postern, you had but 
to look up, and there was the grand, grey, massive 
old Cathedral, keeping watch and ward over you. 
Like the thought of God in the heart of man, 
facing all his narrow, crooked aims and purposes, 
his crumbling vows and broken resolutions, with 
its front of calm, eternal majesty. 




CHAPTER IV. 

UCH quiet people, such exceedingly 
| quiet people ; in fact, no sort of addition 
to the place at all in the way of society. 
Now, didn't they strike you, my dear Mrs. 
Scrymgeour, as exceedingly quiet people ?" 

The speaker was Miss Luckie, a cheerful, chatty, 
quicksilvery little maiden lady of seventy five; 
for the past fifteen years a denizen of the " Home 
for Decayed Gentlewomen," or as it was called by 
ordinary people, the " Old Maid's Hospital/' 
situate in the Low Gardens, about half a mile 
from the Cathedral. The lady to whom she 
addressed the foregoing remark, was Mrs. Scrym- 
geour, relict of the late Archdeacon Scrymgeour, 
and daughter-in-law of the former Bishop of St. 
Olave's, a tall, severe, dignified-looking woman, 



38 st. olave's. 

bristling all over with ecclesiastical propriety, and 
bearing a remarkable family likeness to the gaunt 
effigies which some old monk, in a fit of ill 
humour, had carved, centuries ago, on the west 
front of the Cathedral. Mrs. Scrymgeour was 
Censor- general of the diocese of St. Olave's, and 
lady-president of the " Position Committee," a 
select body of ladies chosen from the Close fa- 
milies, assembling at stated intervals to decide the 
social status of strangers who came to reside in 
the neighbourhood. Miss Luckie did not belong 
to the Position Committee, that conclave being 
exclusively confined to ladies who had connections 
in the Church, but she often dropped in to have 
a tete-a-tete with Mrs. Scrymgeour, and, as is 
likely enough in places where intellectual life is 
very stagnant, their conversation more frequently 
turned upon men and women than anything else. 
" Miss Luckie/' replied the Archdeacon's widow, 
gravely, " if I am called upon to give my opinion," 
— Mrs. Scrymgeour usually prefaced her little 
orations with this phrase ; she was so often 
" called upon " in the committee, that it had 
become habitual to her. " If I am called upon to 
give my opinion, 1 must say that I have always 



39 

considered strangers, especially when their position 
is not perfectly well defined, as being mnch better 
for cultivating a spirit of silence. It shows a 
becoming feeling of respect to the city, and there 
is too much talk in the world already — a great 
deal too much, Miss Luckie." 

"Well, for my part, Mrs. Scrymgeour," said 
Miss Luckie, nowise daunted by the dogmatic 
cast-iron tones of her companion, " I can't do with 
such remarkably reticent people. Retiring man- 
ners sound very nicely in books, but they're an 
awful bore when you have to make a morning call 
upon them. Really when I went to Miss Bruce, 
a month ago — you know she's in my district for 
collecting — I was fairly stuck fast for want of 
something to say, and I'm sure that isn't often 
the case with me. There's such an indescribable 
quiet about the place, I declare it's just like being 
somewhere where there's nothing to breathe. Not 
that I mean any disrespect, you know." 

" Of course. I perfectly comprehend what you 
wish to convey by your mode of expression, but I 
am not acquainted with the parties you mention, 
beyond seeing Miss Bruce at the morning prayers. 
And as I noticed that the verger in attendance, 



40 ST. olave's. 

who has great discernment in such matters, only- 
placed her in the second tier of stalls, and brought 
her a prayer-book without the Cathedral arms on 
the back, I have quite given up the idea of leaving 
my card at the house. I find it needful to be 
select, Miss Luckie. Position with me is a 
matter of conscientious observation." 

" Yes, exactly ; and really, Mrs. Scrymgeour, 
with such shoals of unmarried ladies as we have in 
St. Olave's, you know I can say it with impunity, 
being one myself," and here Miss Luckie laughed 
that merry laugh of hers, which set her silvery 
grey curls all in a flutter, and made her white cap 
ribbons dance again ; "we really have such shoals 
of unmarried ladies in St. Olave's, that any one 
who has got past the meridian of life, as Miss 
Bruce seems to have done, can hardly be looked 
upon in the light of an acquisition." 

" Just my views, Miss Luckie, just my views. 
I always say that although we differ on many 
points, I seldom meet with any one who, on the 
whole, meets my views more satisfactorily than 
yourself." 

" Thank you, Mrs. Scrymgeour ; and now how 
old should you take the lady to be ?" 



st. olave's. 41 

" People carry their age so differently," said 
the Archdeacon's widow, stepping across the long 
wainscoted room, to draw the crimson cnrtain 
farther over the window, for the evening sunlight 
slanting in through the Close elm -trees came too 
strongly upon her embroidery. " People carry 
their age so differently. Now for instance, Mrs. 
Amiel Grey, at the Old Lodge, just across the 
Close, cannot be less than eighty, at the very 
least, for you know she went to live there as soon 
as it was relinquished by the Canons, and she was 
a person comparatively in years then, and the 
Canons have occupied their present residence for 
the last thirty years, to my own personal recollec- 
tion, at least," and here Mrs. Scrymgeour paused ; 
it does not answer for a lady, especially a widow 
lady, and one who is fast approaching the Rubicon 
of fifty, to be too explicit in her personal recollec- 
tions. 

" However, that is irrelevant to the present 
subject," she continued, taking a fresh supply of 
gold thread, and bestowing a somewhat lengthy 
investigation on the monogram she was. copying. 
" I only intended to say that Mrs. Amiel Grey is 
a remarkably capable woman for her years. As 



42 st. olave's. 

for the other lady, I should give it as my opinion 
that five and thirty is somewhere near the mark." 

" Thirty-five ; a most uncomfortable age for an 
unmarried woman. You're neither one thing nor 
another, when you're thirty-five, I always say, 
though I remember it now from a distance of 
forty years" — 

" Miss Luckie, impossible \" and Mrs. Scrym- 
geour, whose face was puckered about like the 
velvet lining inside the lid of a lady's jewel case, 
looked with undisguised amazement at her visitor's 
comely little visage, nestling so cosily within the 
shade of her white cap and trim curls. 

" Seventy-six next birthday, Mrs. Scrymgeour, 
and that's the seventeenth of August. You know 
I've been in the Home sixteen years, and we're 
not allowed to turn in there until past sixty. But 
as I was going to tell you I feel quite sympathetic 
for this sister of our new organist \ thirty-five is 
such a very uncomfortable age. Now when an 
unmarried person gets past forty, she gives up 
looking out, and brings her mind to her circum- 
stances ; matrimonial chances don't often hand 
out after that. At least I found it so, but you 
know poor dear Papa retired from the army then, 



st. olave's. 43 

and we left off barrack life, so that nothing 
was likely to turn up, and I was obliged to settle 
down to my condition." 

Miss Luckie didn't look as if the settling down 
had been a very painful process after all. Indeed, 
to contrast the story which spinsterhood had 
written upon her face, with that which the holy 
estate of matrimony had left upon Mrs. Scrym- 
geour's, one might be tempted to say that single 
blessedness had decidedly the best of it. 

" Miss Bruce does not give me the impression 
of a marrying person, Miss Luckie. If I were 
asked to give my opinion, I should say she had 
had a disappointment, or something of that nature. 
There is a great deal of disappointment in the 
world, Miss Luckie," and Mrs. Scrymgeour sighed 
as she added a golden ray to the monogram. 

" Oh, as for that, it's just as people take it," 
rejoined Miss Luckie, the grey curls frisking 
merrily round again. " I always say a great deal 
of breath, that might be more usefully employed, 
is spent in sighs. I never had what's called a 
disappointment, myself; for in barrack-life you're 
whisked about so from one place to another, that 
you haven't time to fix your affections anywhere 



44 st. olave's. 

to speak of. If you do try to plant a little sprig 
of love, the order for the route comes before it's 
had time to take root. And then you know when 
poor dear Papa dropped off, and I was obliged to 
turn my attention to teaching, I was so far 
advanced in life, being, as I said before, just on 
the verge of forty, that it was past the time for 
any one to make a fuss over me. And so you see 
I've just trotted on through life on my own ac- 
count ; and I think I'm a standing memorial of 
the desirableness of single life. I often say, no 
lady in St. Olave's carries her age better than I do, 
except, perhaps, Mrs. Amiel Grey ; and then you 
know she's had such a quiet life." 

" Too quiet," replied Mrs. Scrymgeour, — she 
had worn her robes of censorship so long, that she 
found it difficult to cast them. " If I were asked 
to give my opinion, I should say that Mrs. Grey 
exerts herself far too little in this locality. A per- 
son of her influence and property, Miss Luckie, 
ought to be more of a burning and a shining 
light in visiting agencies and committees. I have 
never been able to forget that bazaar last summer, 
for the restoration of the organ, when she refused 
to allow her niece to assist in presiding at the re- 
freshment stall." 



st. olave's. 45 

" But Miss Alice was such a child then, dear 
Mrs. Scrymgeour, scarcely seventeen; and I 
was told Mrs. Grey subscribed very handsomely." 

' c Personal effort, Miss Luckie, personal effort, in 
my opinion, ought never to be withheld ;" and Mrs. 
Scrymgeour gave her left hand a dignified wave, 
which seemed to say plainly enough : c< Silence, 
Miss Luckie, you don't know anything about it." 
The little maiden lady interpreted it in this way, 
and offered no further remark, whilst the Arch- 
deacon's widow continued in a staid, systematic 
tone, as though addressing a visitation of the 
clergy— 

" Position, Miss Luckie, especially in a place 
like this, is a talent which ought not to be buried 
in a napkin instead of presiding at a refreshment 
stall. And, indeed, I felt it incumbent upon me, 
as a person of some influence in this neighbour- 
hood, to call round upon Mrs. Grey, and remon- 
strate with her upon what I considered the 
impropriety of her conduct. But I could make 
no impression. Mrs. Grey is exceedingly firm, 
though she has such a quiet way with her. Indeed, 
if I were asked to give my opinion, I should say 
she is almost obstinate." 



ST. OLAVES. 



Here Mrs. Scrymgeour made a second lengthy- 
investigation of the design she was copying upon 
her crimson velvet altarcloth; and then stroked 
down the soft rich material complacently. This 
altarcloth was intended as a present to the Ca- 
thedral, though whether the donor apprehended 
its use in connection with an ordinance, which 
inculcates upon all partakers the necessity of 
being in love and charity with their neighbours, 
is a question admitting of discussion. 

The dialogue chronicled above, took place in 
the dining-room of Mrs. Archdeacon Scrymgeour's 
residence, a starch- and-buckr am looking house at 
the north end of the Close, almost under the 
shadow of the Chapter House. It was a very 
stately old-fashioned room. The sunlight came 
in through heavily-framed, narrow windows, and 
rested upon massive oak wainscoting — very few 
of the Close houses were papered, being built before 
this modern shift came into vogue. The ceiling 
was divided in deep panels, with a border of carved 
oak, containing ecclesiastical devices and inscrip- 
tions in old English characters. There were a 
few family portraits on the walls, stiff old ladies 
in topknots; three or four clergymen in gowns 



47 

and bands ; and over the fireplace a bishop — Mrs. 
Scrymgeour's father-in-law, — almost buried in a 
huge easy chair, out of which the old gentleman's 
lawn draperies boiled over in a milky froth, upon 
a background of crimson curtains. 

Mrs. Archdeacon Scrymgeour occupied her 
usual position on the outskirts of the hearth-rug, 
at right angles with the chimney-piece. Of course 
there was no fire this summer evening ; but that 
was Mrs. Scrymgeour's place, and therefore she 
sat in it, being averse to change, which, as she 
thought, indicated a weak disposition. Miss 
Luckie was perched near the window, from which 
she could command a view of the Close, with its 
groups of elegantly dressed ladies, and gowned 
Cathedral dignitaries. But now and then, as a 
remarkably stylish party passed, or a carriage, 
crested and coronetted, swept along the gravelled 
sweep, she would leave her chair, and skim to the 
window seat, with a funny little bobbing gait, 
that reminded one irresistibly of the motion of a 
water- wagtail. Miss Luckie's habitat at the 
Low Gardens was very quiet, much too quiet for 
the merry little maiden lady, who had no more 
vocation for retirement than a magpie has for 



48 st. olave's. 

silence. Often had she rued the over-much care- 
fulness of the founders of the Home, who in their 
anxiety to shelter its inmates from the glare and 
hustle of outer life, had enclosed the garden with 
a high wall, and beyond that a row of chestnut 
trees, whose bushy branches formed a screen 
through which not even the scarlet of an officer's 
uniform, nor the most magnificent feminine toilet 
that was ever accomplished, could penetrate. It 
was to snatch a stray glimpse of fashionable life, 
as well as to obtain a little wholesome exercise of 
her vocal organs, in the course of a tete-a-tete with 
Mrs. Scrymgeour, that Miss Luckie came so 
frequently to Chapter Court. Between the two 
ladies, on a soft crimson cushion, bolt upright, 
as was its custom, sat the archidiaconal cat. But 
that cat deserves a paragraph all to itself, and 
shall have it. 

The last descendant of a noble line, which had 
nourished in the Close from a period anterior to 
the memory of the oldest inhabitant, she pos- 
sessed a pedigree almost as illustrious as that of 
her mistress ; and she knew it too, and evinced her 
appreciation of it by an unwonted dignity of de- 
portment. Mrs. Scrvmgeour's was an ecclesi- 



st. olave's. 49 

astical cat, accustomed to mix in genteel society, 
and as such it scorned to roam the Close in com- 
pany with others of less aristocratic birth and 
family connections, or to scour the neighbour- 
ing roofs, after dark, in quest of worldly amuse- 
ment. Mrs. Scrymgeour's cat had tastes far 
above anything of this sort, and preferred to 
spend its secluded leisure on the hearth-rug of 
the Chapter Court dining-room, listening to the 
edifying conversation of its mistress; just step- 
ping to the window now and then to see how the 
world went on outside, but scornfully repelling 
the advances of feline plebeians who sought to 
lure it into friendly relations. Its proper bene- 
fice was the crimson cushion, where it now sat 
in due state and dignity, its shoulders slightly 
shrugged, its tail decorously folded round its fore- 
paws, its head drawn back with a supercilious 
air, which had probably been acquired from the 
Archdeacon's lady. A model of a Cathedral cat. 

" And so you don't think," said Miss Luckie, 
when she had resumed courage enough to get back 
to the original starting-point ; " you don't think 
they're likely to be an acquisition to the place ? " 

" My dear Miss Luckie, I don't go so far as 

VOL. I. B 



50 

that. The Dean and Chapter would never have 
presented Mr. Bruce to the organ, if the family- 
had not been unexceptionable, perfectly unexcep- 
tionable, I mean as to moral qualifications. But 
you must be aware, Miss Luckie, if you have given 
the subject a judicious consideration " 

".Oh, Mrs. Scrymgeour, Fm not equal to a 
judicious consideration ; Fm not, indeed. I never 
got further than taking things as I find them, and 
letting the judiciousness alone." 

" That whatever manners and customs may be 
in Scotland," continued Mrs, Scrymgeour, ignor- 
ing Miss Luckie' s little parenthesis ; " and I would 
not be understood to criminate them, as I have 
never visited the country — in St. Olave's, Miss 
Luckie, a person must be possessed of considerable 
advantages, both of birth and position, to be viewed 
in the light of an acquisition to the place. Now, 
in a manufacturing district like Millsmany" — and 
here Mrs. Scrymgeour' s face looked as if the good 
lady had been suddenly called upon to swallow a 
dose of black draught — " in Millsmany, Miss 
Luckie, anybody is received; but in a Cathedral 
city we look for superiority — superiority, I repeat, 
is indispensable." 



st. olave's. 51 

" Well now, do you know, Mrs. Scryuigeour, 
it struck me from the very first, that the Bruces 
had a superior air about them, as if they had 
been accustomed to something upper class." 

u My dear Miss Luckie," replied the Arch- 
deacon's widow, with a gentle deprecatory wave of 
her hand, somewhat wrinkled now and parchmenty, 
" I should consider it quite out of my province to 
indulge in any personal remarks on the air of the 
Bruces. I never allow myself in animadversions. 
I have no doubt the parties to whom you refer 
are well conducted and respectable ; but I believe 
you will allow, Miss Luckie, that in my position, 
I cannot be expected to offer the right hand of 
friendship to persons whose antecedents, so far as 
I know at present, are involved in obscurity. And 
as for their family " 

" Haven't got one, I suppose, since we never 
heard of it. But, after all, dear Mrs. Scrymgeour, 
a pedigree isn't everything." 

" Precisely so, Miss Luckie, precisely so. But 
if I were asked to give my opinion, I should say 
it is a great deal, especially in a place like this, 
where, as I have often said, blood is indispensable." 
And Mrs. Scrymgeour looked complacently across 

e 2 
LIBRARY 
UNIVERSITY OF \l.UNO\S 



52 st. olave's. 

the room to a compartment of one of the stained 
windows, which contained her arms, quartered 
with those of the late Archdeacon. 

Mrs. Scrymgeour was very proud of her 
pedigree. She considered it a great stay to her 
respectability. The blood which oozed within 
those wizened hands of hers had been imported 
into this country at the time of the Norman 
Conquest, and grew rich on English plunder for 
a century or two. After that a little of it was 
unfortunately spilt in the wars of the Hoses ; but 
the remainder replenished itself by aristocratic 
alliances, and flowed comfortably on until the civil 
wars of Charles I., when it again paid the tax of 
loyalty, and poured forth one or two libations on 
Marston Moor and Naseby. During the Com- 
monwealth it retired into private life, but frisked 
and frolicked forth again in the Merrie Monarch's 
Court, held on its course past the Georges, in 
whose times it got into an ecclesiastical channel, 
and fattened upon successive Rectories, Deaneries, 
and Bishoprics. Fifty years ago it had joined its 
proud current with that of the Honourable and 
Reverend Marmaduke Mace, of Macefield, in 
the county of , and the sole result of 



53 

that union was the lady who now occupied 
Chapter Court. 

It was this pedigree, rather than any external 
charms of face or manner, which won the hand — 
not to say the heart — of the late Archdeacon, and 
installed Mrs. Scrymgeour in the goodly fellow- 
ship of the Close families. But to return to the 
two ladies, who are still nibbling with true feminine 
pertinacity, at that bone of contention — the social 
position of the Bruce's. 

" I rather fancy Mrs. A»»iel Grey has paid 
them some attention though," said Miss Luckie ; 
" and you know," added the little virgin, by way of 
clenching her argument, " the Greys of Stoneby 
are one of the oldest families in the North." 

" Kindness, my dear Miss Luckie, pure kind- 
ness. I quite appreciate Mrs. Amiel Grey's 
motives; she's an excellent old lady, a very 
excellent old lady. But we know what age is." 
And the Archdeacon's widow said this with a 
delightful waft of charity in her tones — " at least, 
I don't mean practically," she continued, with a 
glance at the lean and bony fingers which were 
still manipulating the crimson velvet," " not 
practically Miss Luckie." 



54 st. olave's. 

" So far as you are concerned, not in the least, 
dear Mrs. Scrymgeour." 

" No. But you see age has its failings, and I 
feel it my duty to say, that since her residence at 
the Old Lodge, Mrs. Grey has never paid that 
attention to her position which the locality de- 
mands. Sometimes I have almost considered it 
due to the other families in the Close, to give her 
a gentle hint on the advisability of not calling 
quite so indiscriminately on new comers. But 
you know, poor dear lady, she is, as I said before, 
so sweetly amiable, that there is no getting her to 
understand these little matters of etiquette. I 
really do believe, if she thought it would give 
pleasure, she would not hesitate to leave a card at 
the door of that retired merchant, who has just 
come here from Millsmany to settle." 

At the mention of this profoundest depth of 
sweet amiability, the archidiaconal cat moved its 
head round with a scornful sweep, shrugged its 
shoulders, and slightly raised its left paw, with 
a gesture that seemed to say — " Well, I never." 

There was something very remarkable in the 
way that cat had of expressing its sentiments in 
common with its mistress. It had got a trick of 



st. olave's. 55 

turning its head half-way round, and back again, 
and elevating its back, as it sat bolt upright, with 
tail decently folded over its fore feet ; and at the 
mention of anything remarkably disgraceful in the 
habits of a Cathedral city, It used to pucker its 
forehead, move its whiskers rapidly backward and 
forward, and look at the Archdeacon's widow with 
an affecting expression of wounded dignity. 

" Well, I really must confess/' said Miss 
Luckie, somewhat hesitatingly, as though staggered 
by the joint opinion of Mrs. Scrymgeour and 
Puss, " I never could see the precise use of keep- 
ing oneself so very much to oneself, although 
certainly I always give a due regard to my 
position as an officer's daughter, and have never 
seen the way clear yet to show more than distant 
civility to the lady in the next room to mine, 
because her father was connected with the sugar 
business; and although I've the greatest respect 
for her, still you see trade and the army are so 
very far apart. But sometimes I think the families 
about here carry it a little too far. I'm afraid 
there won't be a Cathedral Close for us in heaven, 
where we can keep ourselves to ourselves, and 
never meddle with any one else." 



56 

" Rank is a divine ordinance, which, in my 
opinion, will be recognized in the world to come ;" 
and here Mrs. Scrymgeour's voice took a deeper 
key, suited to the utterance of such solemn 
realities. ' ' I have no sympathy with those who 
reduce the future state to an indiscriminate 
amalgamation of social degrees. Position, select- 
ness, refinement, my dear Miss Luckie, will not 
be entirely overlooked in another sphere of 
being." 

There was silence for a few moments, whilst 
Mrs. Scrymgeour's opinions distilled into the mind 
of her auditor. 

" Well, really now/' resumed Miss Luckie, 
"that's quite a new view of the case. Fm sure the 
Dissenters about here ought to look after their 
manners then, for some of them are sadly behind 
hand. So you really think, Mrs. Scrymgeour, 
that the nobility, clergy, and gentry, will have 
separate accommodation provided for them in the 
heavenly Canaan." 

" I don't interfere with doctrinal subjects, Miss 
Luckie. I left all such matters to the late Arch- 
deacon ; but if I were asked to give my opinion, I 
should say that birth, and rank, and breeding, 



st. olave's. 57 

and, above all, ecclesiastical connections, will be 
decidedly advantageous hereafter. I should con- 
sider it quite inimical, under any circumstances, 
to associate with such people as the merchants 
of Millsmany, or the Dissenters of this neigh- 
bourhood " 

Mrs. Scrymgeour pronounced this word " Dis- 
senters," with a condensed acerbity, a concentrated 
essence of spleen, which "may be more easily 
imagined than described." What the locusts 
were to the Egyptians — what the east wind is to a 
valetudinarian — what those sturdy vegetarians, the 
snails, are to the lady florist, who finds them 
morning by morning munching her choicest 
annuals — such were the Dissenters to Mrs. Scrym- 
geour. She confirmed her statement by a decisive 
wave of her hand, a movement imitated by the cat 
with its left paw. 

Soon after this, Miss Luckie put on her bonnet 
and trotted homewards, having been called for by 
the old woman who acted as chaperone-general to 
the Establishment at the Low Gardens. By-and- 
by the shadows of night crept round and about ; 
the porter shut the iron gates of the Close with a 
reverberating clang ; the families — Dean, Canons, 



58 

Vicars-choral, Prebends, old maidens, widows, 
and Archdeacons, wrapped themselves up in their 
gentility, and went to sleep. As the bell in the 
broad tower rung out the stroke of ten o* clock, 
Mrs. Scrymgeour summoned her household to 
family prayers. She opened the silver-clasped, 
morocco-covered Prayer-book, which lay on a 
stand at the further end of the long dining-room, 
and kneeling down on a soft velvet hassock, in- 
formed the Almighty that she, in common with 
the tasselled footmen and aproned damsels at the 
bottom of the apartment, was a miserable sinner. 
Then she asseverated that she had erred and 
strayed like a lost sheep, and stigmatized herself 
as an unworthy servant : both these statements 
being made in a complacent and perfectly self- 
satisfied tone, as though the meaning of them was 
rather complimentary than otherwise. After- 
wards she requested, as she had been in the habit 
of requesting regularly every night for the last 
twenty years, that she and everybody else might 
be kept from all uncharitableness ; to which the 
servants, doubtless, in their hearts, vouchsafed a 
hearty Amen. After this she dispensed over them 
the Apostolic benediction ; and then, with a com- 



st. olave's. 59 

placent consciousness that, in the performance of 
these duties, she had reached and compassed the 
bounds of Christian duty, she gathered together 
the ample folds of her rich black silk dress, swept 
up the oaken staircase, and resigned herself to 
dignified repose. 






CHAPTER V. 

N bygone times of rack and tumult, 
when foreign armies pillaged the ducal 
palaces of Italy, those who had rare and 
valuable paintings bethought themselves of a 
strange expedient by which these treasures might 
be secured from the hand of the spoiler. They 
learned to crust over the priceless canvas with 
some composition, upon which they painted an 
inferior picture, in coarse and common colours. 
So when generals in search of plunder ransacked 
the galleries, they threw these carelessly aside, 
finding no worth in them, knowing not how 
grand were the masterpieces which beneath such 
rude daubs lay concealed. And now, time after 
time, some connoisseur hunting amongst piles of 
art rubbish in London back-streets, or con- 



st. olave's. 61 

tinental cities, stumbles upon one of these 
masked pictures, discerns beneath its rough crust 
other and finer touches, carries it home, and day 
by day, with patient, unwearying care clears off 
the deceitful surface, until the real painting 
stands confessed in its matchless beauty. 

Something akin to this we find in the world of 
human life. Often in its rush and hurry and 
tumult, those of fine, sensitive natures encase 
themselves within a second and outer life — 
unseemly it may be — and having no beauty that 
it should be desired by those whose eyes can only 
see the outsides of things. Thus they live on, 
uncared for, unprized among their fellows, until 
one more skilled than the rest discerns beneath 
this baffling outer surface the real, truejnature of 
the man, and sees hidden from human sight 
the glorious handiwork of the Divine artist. 
Many such veiled ones there are, walking side by 
side with us in this world, men of whom we are 
not worthy, men whose real beauty and grandeur 
we shall never know, until in the light of eternity 
God uncovers His own image, and bids us see 
them as they are. 

It was a very shady, quiet life, such as the 



62 st. olave's. 

world calls hum-drum, that David Bruce and his 
sister lived in that little home of theirs. Slow 
even for such a slow place as St. Olave's, and 
one that would have been considered absolutely- 
stagnant anywhere else. There was great silence 
in both of their natures ; in hers the silence of 
rest ; in his the silence of pride. Great strength 
and resolution for any work that needed to be 
done, for any effort that needed to be made; 
great patience, too, for the struggle of life in 
whatever form that struggle might come. Not 
exactly the sort of people to be popular anywhere, 
least of all in this trim little city of St. Olave's, 
where elegant manners and polite address were so 
very requisite, and whose whole superstructure 
of social life was reared upon the foundation 
stone of position. 

And so after a little preparatory vibration, 
after a few visits paid and received, one or two 
wandering tendrils thrown out and withdrawn for 
want of anything to cling to, David and Janet 
Bruce drew apart from St. Olave's society, and 
lived on in their own self-contained, secluded 
life; chary even to each other of much outward 
demonstration, yet holding fast a love which was 



st. olave's. 63 

all the stronger because so much of it lay unseen. 

Very beautiful, and a little touching, too, it 
was to see how Janet Bruce deferred to David in 
all things ; how the whole of her serene, reticent 
nature had folded itself round "my brother;" 
how she seemed to look at their life with all its 
chances and changes and hopes, only as he might 
be affected. She had an unbounded confidence in 
him. Much of his mind she could not under- 
stand — men and women never do know each 
other thoroughly — but what she did know she 
reverenced, and the rest she believed in with 
woman-like trust. 

Just they two living in that old-fashioned house 
on the outskirts of the cathedral city of St. 
Olave's. Only they two. Ah ! what great issues 
of death and separation must have come to pass, 
what weary sorrows been grappled with, what 
words of long farewell said, what slow falling off 
and dropping away of human interests, what 
breaks in the once crowded fireside circle, what 
gradual, painful narrowing down of joy and hope, 
ere Janet Bruce had learned to say "my 
brother and V — in that little sentence comprising 
her all of earthly possession and affection. But 



64 

of these things they never spoke save to each 
other, and then only with that grave reverence 
which is most meet in touching all bygone sorrow. 

David Bruce had come home from afternoon 
service, and the two were sitting in the little 
parlour at Westwood. Their evenings were 
mostly spent there in the pleasant summer time. 
The new anthem, in which David had been prac- 
tising the choristers, lay open on the table. He 
was standing at the window with folded arms, 
looking past the sunlit trellis work of ivy and 
vine leaves into the still garden and away to the 
purple-grey Minster towers, which were set like 
a picture in a framework of clasping linden 
branches. Looking, not with the vague, idle 
gaze of a waking dream, but steadily, fixedly, 
with absorbed intensity of meditation, as though 
slowly working out some train of thought that 
had grown up in his mind. 

David Bruce was not what society terms an 
elegant man. There was neither style nor 
fashion about him; nothing but grave, quiet 
dignity, and a certain steady resolution which 
could both dare and do great things, if need be. 
Not handsome either ; his features were too 



irregular for that, and his eyes too deeply set. 
But he had the real musician's forehead, — full, 
broad, and roundly outlined, — such as one sees 
in the heads of Cherubini and Beethoven, 
shadowed by thick tangled hair, already plen- 
tifully streaked with grey. His face was the 
face of a man who, in passing through this 
world, has met with more of disappointment 
than hope fulfilled; one who has been tried, 
harassed — perhaps wronged and betrayed — for 
some of the lines about the mouth were very 
bitter, and there was a set, resolute, somewhat 
incredulous expression in the dark-grey eyes, 
which told of hardness endured and suffering 
conquered. But the most striking part of David 
Bruce's face was the perfectly straight line of 
the eyebrows, always a great beauty in any 
face, and the only thing which redeemed his 
from downright plainness. It gave a look of 
gentleness and purity to the whole counten- 
ance. 

" Brother," said Janet, looking up from a 

fine damask table-cloth which she was darning. 

She always waited for his answer before she 

. went on with any remark she had to make j 

VOL. I. F 



66 st. olave's. 

it was a sort of silent tribute of respect to 
him. 

"Well, Jeanie." 

"I have been thinking it is much more 
expensive living here than in Scotland." 

Which matter-of-fact observation, clashing as 
it did with the first phrases of a symphony 
which were weaving themselves in David's brain, 
did not meet with an immediate answer. 

So there was silence again between them — 
silence whilst the light crept slowly up from 
branch to branch of the linden trees, and the 
western sunshine began to flicker in a warm 
red glow from the topmost windows of the 
great Cathedral tower. Janet darned patiently 
on, held the table-cloth up to the light to see 
if there were any more thin places in it, and 
then with another glance at her brother, who 
was still standing at the window with folded 
arms, she began again upon the old subject. 

It was a very noticeable feature in Janet 
Brace's character, this habit she had of sticking 
resolutely to any thought which had once 
worked its way into her mind. Often when 
sitting alone with her brother, she would make 



st. olave's. 67 

some chance remark that moved neither 
answer nor comment, and then perhaps an hour 
afterwards, when he had forgotten all about it, 
a second deliberate sentence would show that 
her ideas had all the while been quietly work- 
ing on in the old track. 

"And I have been thinking, Davie, it is time 
we began to do something to make ends meet. 
Your salary now is quite insufficient for the ap- 
pearance which we are expected to make. I have 
only five pounds left of the money you gave me at 
the beginning of the quarter " 

" And it will be — how long before I get any 
more ?" 

" Just six weeks," said Janet, referring to the 
little almanack which she always carried in her 
pocket, u and I really don't think I can manage 
on sixteen shillings a week until then." 

" I don't see what's to be done, Jeanie. You 
know I have only had two applications in answer 
to my advertisement for pupils. St. Olave's 
appears to be well-stocked with music masters 
already, and I suppose until I am fortunate enough 
to get a name in the musical world, there is no 
other way in which we can better ourselves." 

f 2 



68 st. olave's. 

" There was a thought came into my mind this 
morning, Davie," and Janet went to the sideboard 
drawer, from which she took the supplement sheet 
of the " Times." " I was looking over the paper 
when you brought it in last night, and I found 
this advertisement. I wonder if we could make 
anything out about it." 

And Janet read : — 

" A lady desires to meet with board and resi- 
dence in a quiet famity, where there are no 
children. The neighbourhood of a small English 
town preferred. Unexceptionable references given 
and required. Address A. B., Post Office, Kes- 
wick, Cumberland." 

c ' Well, Jeanie," and David came and sat down 
in his great arm-chair with a grave, business-like 
expression on his face, as of a man who has got 
something to do and means to go through with it. 

"It would not be a great deal of trouble, 
brother. I have been considering how things 
might be managed. There is the bedroom that 
looks towards St. Olave's, we never use it for our- 
selves, and as we have no visitors, it is not likely 
to be wanted at present. That would do very 
well for a lady of moderate requirements, if we 



69 

had it painted, and new hangings put up. Then 
there is that canny little room where I keep my 
plants. She might have it for a sort of privat e 
sitting-room, when she did not wish to be with 
us." 

" It would use up your time very much, Jeanie. 
You do not know what amount of attention she 
might need — at least, I mean, how much she 
might require ; people often require a great deal 
when they need very little." 

" As for the trouble, Davie, I don't care much 
about that. I would as soon work at one thing 
as another. You know I am not easily worried." 

Any one who looked into Miss Bruce's face 
might have told that in a moment. She was 
a member of the Peace Society, in more senses 
than one. 

" At any rate, Jeanie," said her brother, " we 
could meet one of the conditions specified in the 
advertisement. I don't think any one would 
question the fact of our being a ( quiet family.' 
We have been here four months now, and in that 
time we have had, let me see, how many callers — 
three, have we not ? — the clergyman of the parish, 
the medical man, who only left his card because 



70 st. olave's. 

he heard you were liable to affections of the throat, 
and — Miss Grey." 

This last name was uttered with that slight and 
yet perceptible fall of the voice, which people un- 
consciously use in speaking any name which lies 
far down in their thoughts. But Janet neither 
noticed this nor the pause which had preceded it. 

" You have forgotten the tax-gatherers, Davie/' 
and a touch of quiet humour stole into her face ; 
" the borough rates, and the water rates, and the 
Church rates, and the watching, lighting, and 
paving rates, and the poor rates; besides the 
ladies who call for subscriptions. You see we 
are not quite deserted." 

" Oh ! I forgot, and that accounts for my salary 
melting away so. But there is another thing, 
Jeanie, have you thought of the loss of position 
which our taking a lodger would involve ? I don't 
care for it myself, but it would make me feel 
wicked rathe*r to see Mrs. Scrymgeour pass you 
by with more polite scorn than she does now." 

" We will try to do without a position, Davie, 
at least, until you can take your own, and I am 
sure you will do that before long. When will 
that Oratorio of yours be finished ?" 



71 

" In November, I hope." 

"Only four months. Shall you really be 
through with it by then ?" 

" That depends. Sometimes it won't go at all, 
and I get out of heart about it ; and then again 
the whole plan unfolds before me, and I can see 

my way right on to the end. But, Jeanie " 

"Well, brother." 

" One ought to be quiet and happy to compose 
beautiful music. You can't do anything well 
when you have a sense of not being in your right 
place whilst you are doing it." 

( ' But still, Davie, we are very comfortable here," 
and Janet took a survey of the room — so dainty in 
its neatness — as though it held all that she cared for 
now. ' ' We are very comfortable, I mean so far as 
the house is concerned, and if we could only just man- 
age to increase our income a little, at least for the 
present; you know we can do without being rich." 
" Yes, Jeanie, but think of the 'old house and 
all that might have been." 

David Bruce paused ; he had forgotten himself. 
He looked quickly at his sister, as if fearing he 
might have grieved her by the memories his words 
had roused. But her face was calm as ever. 



72 st. olave's. 

" Brother, by-and-by we shall see that it has 
all been for the best. You did nobly in doing 
what yon did. It is one of the proudest things I 
have to think about, that you had courage to give 
up all and begin the world afresh. And as for the 
home " 

m 

Janet looked past her brother into the still, 
sunlit garden. For her, quiet and peacefulness 
were all that any home could give now. She had 
overpast the time when people want something 
more than these. With him it was different. 
All the purposes and expectancies of manhood lay 
brooding under that firm, self-contained face, 
tightening it down now into a stern, almost harsh 
expression. Something else than peace, David 
Bruce wanted ; he is scarcely a man who can be 
content with that. Name and fame, a grand, true 
life-work, influence and sway over other minds, 
a steady, immovable standing place in this world, 
something to labour at, and some one else to 
labour for — all these he wanted. But this was- 
the side of his character which Janet could not 
understand. 

" For the home, brother/' she continued, " we 
have each other, and perhaps by-and-by " 



st. olave's. 73 

What possibilities lay folded in that " by-and- 
by " were not destined to come to light. A gentle 
knock was heard outside, and presently Alice 
Grey stood in the parlour, startling its quietness 
like a living flash of sunshine. 

Wherever Alice Grey came, she brought with 
her a fresh, sunshiny feel. Perhaps it was the 
bonnie girlish frankness of her ways, or the clear 
unclouded brightness that shone out upon her 
face, or the unwritten music of every step and 
motion that seemed to shrine her round with this 
joyous presence. Be that as it might, most 
people felt it. So did David Bruce. It unbound 
the strong lines of his face, and brought back the 
old, kind, softened expression, steady and firm 
withal, that used to come there when some beau- 
tiful phrase of melody was tracking its way 
through his thoughts. 

She skimmed across the room to the broad 
low window seat, and settled down there with 
-a floating butterfly sort of grace, the rays of 
sunlight that flickered in through the vine leaves, 
dancing and playing over her as though glad at 
last to find something akin to themselves. 

Somehow you always associated sunshine with 



74 st. olave's. 

Alice Grey ; it never came into your head to ask 
how she would look in rain and mist. 

' ' Won't you let me put you a more comfortable 
seat ?" said Miss Bruce, with a grave courtesy, 
that seemed graver still in contrast with the buoy- 
ant flashing grace of her visitor. 

" No, thank you," said Alice, " don't move. I 
want to stay where I am. I remember I sat here 
that evening I came to have tea with you, and I 
thought it was so nice. Besides, the look-out 
into this garden, helps to make one happy." 

Had Alice spoken her thoughts, she might per- 
haps have added, that the look inward did not 
tend towards that desirable end; but it was one of 
her unconscious habits to look always on the 
brightness. 

" This garden of yours is so quiet and pretty, 
but my fingers tingle to tear down some of those 
branches, and let more sunlight in. Don't you 
think it is a good thing to have as much as ever 
we can get, Mr. Bruce ?" she said, turning round 
to David, who was collecting his scattered 
papers. 

He smiled, thinking that if she would come and 
stay in the room, they should always have plenty, 



75 

but with national reserve he kept this thought 
back, and only said, with a quiet double meaning 
in his tones — 

" I am obliged to work very hard, Miss Grey, 
and too much sunshine would dazzle my 
eyes." 

' ' Would it ? It never dazzled mine yet, and I 
always thought you couldn't have too much of a 
good thing. Somehow I can't get along without 
it. But I'm afraid I am disturbing you. I 
remember when I came last time, you were very 
busy most of the evening until dark." 

David remembered it too, that visit had been 
to him, though he could scarcely tell why, like 
a trail of brightness over the unsunned quiet of 
the month. 

" And then you played for me. Oh ! I have 
so often thought of it since. But I am not going 
to interrupt you so much to-night. I have 
brought a message from Aunt Amiel for Miss 
Bruce," and she turned towards Janet, who had 
resumed her work; "we want you to come and 
spend a long day with us, whilst this pleasant 
summer weather lasts. Come, will you ?" 

Miss Bruce thanked her, but with an undertone 



76 

of hesitation in her voice. Going out to tea made 
a somewhat violent break in the monotony of her 
daily life. 

Alice noticed this hesitation, and thought it 
was perhaps because she did not like to leave her 
brother alone for so long. So she went on to say 
in her straightforward, frank way, without any 
constraint or simpering — 

' ' And Aunt Amiel told me to say that if Mr. 
Bruce would come, we should be very glad to 
see him. Only we have no gentlemen at the 
Old Lodge, and I don't know anybody that you 
w r i 1 d like to meet. But if you won't mind the 
quietness, we will do all we can to make a pleasant 
evening." 

David smiled again, the rippling smile that 
came so rarely over that massive face, but once 
coming would never be forgotten ; it was so deep, 
and almost womanly in its kindness. To be 
spoken to with this fair, frank equality, brought 
back the old home days at Perth. It was plea- 
sant, too, to have that young, fresh, pure girl-face 
looking into his. 

" Thank you, I will come if you like ; but 
Jeanie and I have lived so long in our quiet way, 



77 

that we have almost forgotten how to make our- 
selves agreeable." 

" Then it is quite time you began to learn 
again. And come soon, will you, Miss Bruce ? 
I want you to see our acacia-tree before all the 
blossoms are gone, and they began to fall yester- 
day." 

Janet promised to do so, and her staid face 
brightened a little, as most faces did in the light 
of Alice Grey's. The day was fixed, and with a 
little more friendly chit-chat, for none of the party 
excelled in what could be called brilliant conver- 
sation, Alice fluttered out of the room. When 
she had gone, it seemed as if a flash of sunshine 
had suddenly died out, or some beautiful strain of 
music ceased ; all seemed so grey and hushed. 

Miss Bruce went to open the door for her. 
This was a piece of politeness David generally 
left to his sister. Standing at the window after 
they were gone, in his old position, his hands 
folded behind him, he heard Alice say, in that 
dainty, child-like voice of hers — 

" I have very few friends, and I feel lonely 
sometimes. I would like to know you if you 
will let me." 



78 

The words, or something in the mnsic of her 
voice, drifted him away into a dim, pleasant, 
waking dream, which lasted until long after Janet 
Bruce had come back, and settled down again 
to her knitting. She thought he would have said 
something about their visitor, but he never spoke, 
and grey evening brought its usual silence into the 
little room. 

" Ah \" said Janet to herself, as she peered 
through the deepening twilight into her brother's 
musing, abstracted face, " Davie is so wrapped up 
in this Oratorio of his. He has no thought for 
anything else." 

She took advantage of his silence to steal away, 
and hold a consultation with Tibbie as to the 
feasibility of the lodging scheme. 

Tibbie was the maid of all work. She had lived 
with the Bruces in the time of their prosperity ; 
and when two years ago, a sudden reverse of 
fortune compelled them to break up their establish- 
ment and dismiss their servants, the old Scotch- 
woman stoutly refused to turn out with the rest. 

"I'll no gang awa," she said with vigorous 
determination. "Yer mitherwas aye gude to me, 



st. olave's. 79 

an' Fve took tent o'ye sin ye were a wee bit lassie, 
an' I'll no gang awa the noo." So she staid and 
came with them to St. Olave's. 

Tibbie was a short, stiff, strongly built woman 
with square shoulders, a thick waist and ancles to 
match. She generally wore a linsey petticoat, 
with a checked short gown fastened around her 
sturdy figure and a cap of snowy white sometimes 
tied down with a blue kerchief. The only 
root of bitterness which ever sprang up between 
Janet and her maid, was Tibbie's obstinate refusal 
to wear shoes and stockings when they came to 
Westwood. With true Scottish pertinacity she 
scorned to abate one iota of her nationality in 
favour of southern prejudices. 

" But Tibbie/' said Janet, meekly, for she stood 
rather in awe of the stout Caledonian dame, 
" everybody in England wears shoes and stock- 
ings." 

"The mair blame tull em, Miss Janet. I'll just 
gang my ain gate, an' do as my forbears has done 
afore me ;" and Tibbie cast a glance of infinite 
contempt at the pair of Nottingham hose which 
Janet held out for her acceptance. 

At last a compromise was effected between 



80 ST. olave's. 

them, by which it was agreed that Tibbie should 
go barefoot during the early part of the day, and 
encase her lower extremities in suitable attire 
when the work was done. But she grumbled 
sadly at the arrangement, and over and over 
again assured her mistress that nothing but most 
self-denying devotion to the interests of the family, 
could reconcile her to this violation of old-estab- 
lished customs. 

Tibbie was always consulted as to the domestic 
arrangements of Westwood, and would have held 
it an unpardonable insult had any important 
change been made without her sanction. She 
took the family interests — big and little — into the 
keeping of her tough honest heart, watching over 
them to the extent of her ability, with as much 
vigilance and self-importance as any prime min- 
ister ever showed in guarding the affairs of a 
kingdom. 

" Well, Tibbie/' said Janet, " what do you 
think. Could you manage a little more work 
than you have now V 

" Mair wark," replied Tibbie, looking round 
on her well-kept pans and candlesticks. " Mair 
work ! deed an' I'm just wearyin for the time 



ST. olave's. 81 

when my twa hands couldna' grip a' the work o' 
the Pairth hoose. I am through wi' it the noo 
afore the day is done lang lang, and then its 
nought but knit knit till my fingers aches. Fd 
be gey glad gin the wark were double/' 

" We were thinking, Tibbie, of taking a lady to 
board with us, but I thought I would ask you first 
if you were agreeable." 

" That's like you, Miss Janet ; ye were aye full 
o' thocht for a' body but yoursel. It isn't Tibbie 
as would weary if the wark were thrice mair." 

So that was settled. Janet came back into 
the parlour looking quite satisfied, and before the 
household went to bed, a letter was despatched 
into Cumberland, stating the advantages which 
Westwood could offer to a lady who desired board 
and residence in a quiet family. 



VOL i. 




m 



aik -^ > ** 1 ^^ 



CHAPTER VI. 

jJNE entire day passed, and on the third 
morning the postman's scarlet cap was 

J seen winding up Westwood lane. Davie 
and Janet were sitting in the back parlour or 
"keeping room" as they called it, when Tibbie 
brought the letter in. It was addressed to Mis- 
tress Janet Bruce, and was written in a cramped, 
professional lawyer-like hand. It ran thus : — 

" Madam, 

( ' "We are in receipt of a communication in 
which you offer board and residence to a lady of 
moderate desires and quiet habits. Before we 
make any definite arrangements, you will oblige us 
by answering one or two questions. Is St. Olave's a 
place of much resort for strangers ? Is it situated 
on, or near any of the grand trunk-lines of 



83 

rail ? Is Westwood a village, or simply the name 
of your residence? If the latter, is the house 
situated in a public part of the town, or where 
there are many passers by ? Lastly, in case of the 
lady taking up her abode in your family, would 
she see much society, or is your mode of living 
quiet and secluded ? The names you mention as 
references are perfectly satisfactory, and we think 
there could be no difficulty in completing an 
arrangement should the questions we propose be 
suitably answered. We have the honour to be, 
Madam, your obedient servants, 

"Scruten & Co." 

One or two references to parties in the Lake 
district were enclosed. 

" Rather a curious letter. It seems to be 
written by the lady's solicitors," said David, ex- 
amining the thick blue office-like paper and cramped 
hand-writing. 

" Perhaps she is an orphan, or a ward in Chan- 
cery with a large fortune." 

"Possibly, for they seem quite disposed to be 
liberal in money matters. The questions puzzle 
me rather. I cannot understand why such perfect 
retirement should be needed." 

g 2 



84 st. olave's. 

" The lady may be nervous/' suggested Janet, 
" and have a dread of society/' 

" I hope not. Whatsoever we do, Janet, don't 
let us have a nervous lady to come and board 
with us. It would be worse than living next door 
to a family where the children all learned 
music." 

"Yes, much worse, because in the case of the 
family you might possibly get some pupils. But 
if she were nervous, she would most likely have 
advertised for a place quite in the country." 

" I don't think it. Nervous people like the 
possibility of society without the probability of it." 

"It strikes me that she may be an authoress, 
brother." 

David shrugged his shoulders ; he had a whole- 
some aversion to literary women. 

« Worse and worse, Janet," said he. "I should 
be disposed to back out of the affair altogether, if 
she is connected with the press. I think though, 
had she been an authoress, she would have con- 
ducted her own correspondence. But we must 
not speculate any more; these questions want 
answering, and the letter ought to go to-day." 

"In the first place, then," continued David, 



st. olave's. 85 

taking up the lawyer-like document, " as to St. 
Olave's being a place of public resort." 

" Well, Davie, it is a Cathedral city, and I suppose 
all Cathedral cities are liable to visitations from 
strangers. And then the ruins up at Norlands 
might bring people to the neighbourhood." 

' ' I rather think though, the question refers to 
public amusements, lectures, concerts, balls and 
such things, and we don't have many of them in 
St. Olave's ; it is about as sleepy a place as any one 
could come to. Next, as to the line of rail." 

"We must tell them that it is on the route from 
London to the West of Scotland. I would not 
misrepresent the case on any account." 

"Nor I, but our house is three miles nearly 
from the station. And now about the residence. 
The questions are certainly explicit enough, Janet." 

"Yes, the writer might be a Scotchman for 
precision." 

" We can satisfy him on that subject. We will 
tell him that the house stands back in a large garden 
at the end of a lane about a quarter of a mile from 
the high road, and furthermore that the lane leads 
nowhere in particular. I believe that is correct." 

"And as to the visitors." 



86 

" They come at the rate of three in six months, 
exclusive of tax-gatherers. I wonder if that will 
meet their wishes/' and a somewhat bitter smile 
drew down the corners of David Bruce' s month. 

Janet saw it. 

" Don't look so, Davie ; we love one another, 
and Fm sure we are very happy. But it is time 
you were away to the Minster now, and we will 
send the letter this afternoon." 

David set out. It was a clear, sunny July 
morning. He took off his Glengarry bonnet and 
let the wind play through his hair. It came with 
an idle, sleepy sort of waft; oh ! so different to the 
healthy life-giving breezes which used to sweep 
down upon him from the Perth hills. But every- 
thing about St. Olave's seemed to partake of the 
nature of the place. The old elm trees in the 
Close rocked to and fro with grave ecclesiastical 
dignity; the sunshine, when it came, lay in broad 
monotonous sweeps, too well-bred to dance or 
sparkle or glint as Highland sunshine does. Even 
the very sky remembered that it overwrapped a 
Cathedral city, and never suffered its clouds to 
grow black and foamy over the storms they 
occasionally found it neccessary to hatch. Ah ! it 



87 

was a dull place, this St. Olave's — dull mentally, 
morally, and spiritually; the Seven Sleepers could 
have wished no quieter spot. 

David got to his place in the organ-gallery a 
good while before the service began, so he parted 
the heavy crimson curtains which closed him in, 
and watched the people assemble. 

The congregation was very select. Mrs. 
Scrymgeour was there, in her pew at the right of 
the reading-desk, very near to the little boy 
choristers, who cherished a mortal hatred towards 
her because she had once been the means of 
procuring them a terrible reproof from the Dean. 
The graceless juveniles had had the audacity, 
during the chanting of the Psalms, to carry on 
some private monetary transactions relative to the 
buying and selling of black-jack. Mrs. Scrym- 
geour affirmed, upon her dignity as an Arch- 
deacon's widow, that she heard them sing, " you 
shall have it for twopence," " say a penny three- 
farthings, and Fll take it," instead of chanting 
the proper words as printed by authority in their 
music books. Of course this was a grave offence, 
and the boys suffered accordingly, being confined 
in the vestry a whole day, and fed upon bread and 



88 st. olave's. 

water. But they never forgot it, and used to 
make awful faces at Mrs. Scrymgeour behind their 
white surplices whilst the prayers were going on. 

After her, Mistress Amiel Grey came in, lean- 
ing on the arm of Alice. It was rarely now that 
she got to the service, for she was growing very 
infirm. Still, though she walked slowly, her 
figure was quite erect, and there was a grave 
sweet dignity about her, which made the old folks 
from the almshouses curtsey as she passed them. 
Alice looked very bonnie in her brown hat and 
simple print-dress. David fancied that once she 
looked up towards the organ-gallery, but he could 
not tell whether it was the glance of her eye he 
caught, or only a glint of sunshine which had got 
imprisoned among her light curls. Before she 
came in he was intending to play one of Handel's 
slow movements for the voluntary; when he 
saw her he changed his mind, and chose instead 
that symphony from his half-finished Oratorio 
which he had played to her at Westwood. 

It so chanced that when David Bruce was 
coming down out of the organ-gallery, after 
prayers were over, he encountered Mrs. Amiel 
Grey, who generally stayed in the choir until most 



st. olave's. 89 

of the people had dispersed. A fit of shyness 
came over him, and he would have drawn back 
again, but Alice sprang forward and held out her 
hand to him. 

"Oh, Mr. Bruce \" she said, " I was so glad to 
hear that music again ; it has just been living on 
in my thoughts ever since you played it that 
night. I wish you would play it very often, it 
does me more good than all the rest of the service." 

David could not think of anything to say. He 
felt stupid and awkward, and so, after murmuring 
a few words about being glad that he had given 
her any pleasure, he turned away, and set off 
down the nave to a little side door which led into 
the Close. 

" Who is that gentleman ? " said Aunt Amiel. 

"It is Miss Bruce' s brother, aunt. He 
walked home with me from West wood, when I 

was there a few weeks ago. But, " continued 

Alice, after a pause, during which she had been 
tracing a labyrinth of figures with her parasol on 
the marble pavement. 

" Well, dear, what is it ? » 

u He is such a quiet man, such a very quiet 
man, Aunt Amiel/'' 



90 st. olave's. 

The Keswick letter was sent off by that night's 
post, and another day intervened, which was 
spent by Janet in vague speculations as to the 
expected stranger. The Friday morning on which 
the answer arrived, began with a regular even 
down-pour of rain, and a chill breeze, which made 
the Westwood people glad to have a fire in their 
little sitting-room. The letter this time was 
addressed in a delicate, flowing, graceful female 
hand, very different to the cramped lawyer-like 
style of the preceding one. It was sodden with 
wet, having lain at the top of the postman's 
packet all the way from St. Olave's. Janet scanned 
it for a long time very carefully without opening 
the envelope. 

" Come Jeanie," said David, " what are you 
Waiting for ? " 

" I was only thinking, brother, how very much 
this writing is like Alice Grey's." 

" I have not seen any of Miss Grey's writing. 
Did you ever have a note from her ? " 

"Yes, once. But I remember you were out 
when it came. It was to ask me to go to tea that- 
first time, about two months ago. Just a line, 
nothing more." 



ST. olave's. 91 

<{ Let me see what like it is." 

Janet went to her writing-desk and took out 
the note, — a dainty little billet, — with Mistress 
Amiel Grey's crest upon it. 

David took it from her. It was pleasant to 
hold in his hand anything that Alice Grey had 
touched, — anything upon which she had left the 
impress of her own gracefulness. 

Yes, the handwriting was certainly similar. 
The same fine graceful lines, no crooks, no angles, 
no ugly tail strokes running half across the page. 
It bespoke a character large and free and 
harmonious. 

David held the note a long time, certainly 
much longer than was needed for the mere sake 
of comparing it with the other letter which the 
postman had just brought. At last he laid it on 
the chimney-piece within his reach, instead of 
giving it back to Janet. She did not ask for it, 
for she was intently spelling out the important 
missive from Cumberland. 

" This is the lady's name, then/' she said, and 
read aloud : — 

"Mrs. Edenall thanks Miss Bruce for her full and 
explicit answers to the inquiries made by Messrs. 



92 st. olave's. 

Scruten. On the whole they are satisfactory, as 
are also the terms which Miss Bruce proposes, and 
to which Mrs. Edenall agrees. Perfect retirement, 
freedom from the intrusions of visitors, is all that 
Mrs. E. desires, and she trusts that in coming to 
reside at Westwood this will be gained. Mrs. 
Edenall proposes joining Miss Bruce on the 
24th inst. The train, arrives in St. Olave's about 

8 P.M." 

This letter bore a crest, and it had a deep black 
border. 

" Mrs. Edenall. It is a pretty name. She is 
a fortunate creature, Janet, to desire nothing but 
retirement, and we shall not be afraid of dis- 
appointing her." 

u She does not write like an authoress either, 
Davie." 

"No, the handwriting is too pretty for that, 
and besides she doesn't use long words. The 
note is as simple as even Alice Grey could 
write." 

" I fancy David, she is a widow • of good 
family too, from the crest on the envelope. I 
wonder what is the device." 

Janet took it to the window, but could not 



93 

decipher it. The rain had sodden the paper and 
blurred it, so that something like a hand was all 
that she conld make out. 

" It is no use keeping the note/' she said, 
" papers litter about so." And Janet put both 
envelope and letter into the fire. " Eight o'clock 
on the evening of the 24th. That's a week 
to-day." 

"You had better have kept the envelope, 
Janet. When the rain dried off, you might have 
deciphered the crest." 

" It is too late now/' she said, as the paper 
shrivelled and crackled in the flames. " I don't 
think, though, it is of any consequence. But if she 
comes this day week, I must see about having the 
toilette covers sent to the wash." And Janet 
went out. 

When she had gone, David took Alice Grey's 
note off the chimney-piece and read it over and 
over again. No one would have said that his face 
looked harsh or rugged then. A very gentle 
smile, scarcely a smile, but a sort of reflection 
from some inner light, swept over it, and made it 
look almost beautiful. Then he folded the note 
up and put it in his pocket-book, the first English 



U4 ST. OLAVE'S. 

thing that David Bruce had thought worth 
treasuring. Janet never asked him for it. She 
had either forgotten it altogether, or supposed 
that it had been burned with Mrs. EdenalPs. 

Next evening was the one which had been 
fixed for them to go to the Old Lodge. 



CHAPTER VII. 



[IKfRft -^ ^ld Lodge, occupied by Mistress 
fll^SB ^ m ^ e ^ Grey, — widow of Dean Grej 
■»J—»3 who had died thirty years ago, — what 
a quaint, quiet, out-of-the-world spot it was, 
standing back at the west corner of the Ca- 
thedral Close, past the Deanery, Bishop' s 
Palace and Residence. The very air of eld 
breathed out from its red gables and carved 
fronts ; stories of long ago days seemed nestling 
among the shadows which lay so silently behind 
the grey and mossed oriel windows. It was 
built in the time of the Tudors, and had been 
used by one of them as a Court residence when 
he visited St. Olave's. Even yet the Royal arms 
and monograms were to be seen traced over the 
principal entrance and upon some of the panels 



96 

in the hall. The old women in the almshouses 
told a story, that on the thirtieth of January, 
King Charles used to ride up one of the long 
corridors with his head under his arm, but they 
were free to confess they had never seen the 
gruesome sight, and only believed it on hear- 
say. 

The Old Lodge did not look like a haunted 
place at all. It had far too much cosy sub- 
stantiality to suit the tastes of ghostly visitants, 
who seem to have a vocation for making them- 
selves, as well as other people, uncomfortable, 
and for the most part confine their habitat to 
damp attics and mouldy passages. It was a 
low, rambling, irregular house, one end fronting 
the Cathedral Close, the rest reaching down to 
the river and the Monastery Gardens. Clasping 
masses of ivy, and, in summer-time, luxuriant 
tresses of vine and jasmine, clothed it com- 
pletely over, forming a delicate fret-work round 
the oriel windows and little diamond casements, 
or wreathing fantastically above the brazen 
weathercocks which surmounted some of the 
gables. Part of the building formed a quad- 
rangle round a gravelled court, in the midst of 



97 

which was an old-fashioned fountain spirting 
forth one slow, monotonous jet of water from 
the mouth of a stone dolphin, surrounded by 
little stone cherubs with dripping locks. 

For the interior, the Old Lodge was just 
such a place as wizened antiquary or silence- 
loving student might wish to inhabit. No 
noise of bustling life, no busy work- day hum 
ever got through its thick walls, or had leave 
to waken any echoes in the long, wainscote 
corridors. There were many dark, oak-panelled 
rooms with inscriptions carved round the open 
fire-places, and heraldic devices emblazoned on the 
ceilings; grand old staircases, too, with massive 
balustrades pierced here and there with shot — 
Cromwell had fired upon the place during the 
civil wars, — and little closet-chambers, entered 
by secret doors, which were very silent over 
whatever memories they might hold. 

Still around all the place there was a plea- 
sant, sunshiny feel. Spite of its grizzled 
antiquity, the Old Lodge was a home-like 
spot. Taste and modern contrivance had 
made a pleasant enough retreat of the great 
library which looked out over the Close and 

VOL. I. II 



98 

the west front of the Cathedral. The oriel 
window was bordered with stained glass, and 
filled in summer and autumn-time with creeping 
plants — a dainty setting for the grey old Min- 
ster towers which fronted it. The room was 
very long, stretching the whole length of that 
side of the house — high, narrow, with groined 
roof and carved panelling. The oriel window 
formed one end, at the other was a stained 
glass door, through which the lingering sunlight 
came at evening in long golden sweeps that 
flooded the stately old room with a soft, warm 
glow. This door opened into the garden. 

Speaking of gardens, ah! that was a garden. 
Different enough from our nineteenth century 
development of the idea, which seems to consist 
of half an acre of ground chopped up into 
various compartments, bedizened with mathe- 
matical diagrams of pink, yellow, blue, and red, 
stuck over with plaster vases and wire baskets ; 
a place where there is no shade, no seclusion, 
no anything but one great, glaring mass of 
colour. The Old Lodge garden was what our 
grandfathers aptly termed a "pleasaunce." 
Quaint and queer it was, full of leafy nooks 



st. olave's. 99 

where no intruder ever came with hoe and 
pruning-knife. There were long, sequestered 
alleys in which, centuries ago, Stuart princesses 
had wandered to and fro, where now the 
golden sunlight trickled through birchen boughs 
and thick green chestnut tresses. Beyond these 
were great round flower-beds, bordered with 
thrift and lavender, and filled with clove-pinks, 
damask roses, sweet williams, and all the com- 
fortable old English flowers. Here and there, 
like prim duennas keeping guard over their 
wild floral children, were curiously - cut box- 
trees, preserving still the quaint forms 
which Elizabethan gardeners had given them. 
Fragments of stone columns uprose from the 
grass plots, for the garden came close upon 
the St. Olave's Monastery, and the high altar 
had once stood where now a great acacia 
tossed its feathery branches to the wind. And 
wherever you went, through winding walks or 
under the great arching trees, or along lanes of 
shining laurel, you could see the gables of 
the Lodge peering up — old red-brick gables 
faced with stone and tressed with greenery — 
withered-looking gables, like the worn features 

ii 2 



100 st. olave's. 

of a tried and trusty friend — more precious for 
his wrinkles. 

Room for thought and meditation here, so 
quiet and restful was the whole feeling of the 
place, so utterly apart from work-a-day bustle, 
so full of grey old memories, so brooded 
over by the very spirit of stillness. It was quite 
near the cathedral. Standing under the trees 
by the oriel window you might catch the voices 
of the choristers and the rolling tones of the 
organ at morning and evening prayers, or in 
still summer evenings, hear the soft, musical, 
harp-like sigh of the wind through the bellfry 
tower, swelling and dying out like the wail of 
some prisoned spirit. 

And this was the place where Alice Grey lived 
— the frank, free-hearted English girl — a human 
ray of sunshine upon the still beauty of the 
spot, a strain of merry dance music nickering 
across its dim old-world quietness. 

" Yes, it is very beautiful ; Ave have no gardens 
in Scotland like this," said Miss Bruce, as they 
two sat on the grass under the great acacia tree, 
the tree that Alice was so proud of, with its drops 



101 

of white bloom lying thick upon the delicate foli- 
age, and wafting thrills of perfume down to them 
upon every gust of wind that swept across. 

Alice was picking up the scattered flowers and 
trimming Miss Bruce' s dress with them, then fix- 
ing them in amongst the folds of her dark, glossy 
hair, and laughing a light musical laugh as one 
after another they came tumbling down again. 
Janet sat very quietly under the process, just a 
half smile creeping into her face and back again 
now and then. 

" Ah, you came from Perth here, did you not ? 
I never was there, but I have heard about it. I 
know a family at Millsmany who have travelled in 
Scotland, and I have heard them speak of it as be- 
ing such a pretty town. What part of it did you 
live in?" 

" We lived in the Court-house near by the banks 
oftheTay." 

" What, the Court-house, Miss Bruce, that grand 
place I have heard Miss Granger talk of; it is a 
'little way out of the town, isn't it ? " 

" Yes, my brother and I and all of us used to 
have very happy days there a long time ago, before 
we grew up. - " 



102 st. olave's. 

And with this there came over Janet Brace's face 
a qniet light, as from the sweep of some pleasant 
memory, followed by a still, steady, locked-up look, 
not of pain, but a sort of patient hopelessness. 

Alice saw it and was silent. It spoke to her of 
something she could not as yet understand ; some- 
thing she could only reverence. But it seemed to 
draw her nearer to this quiet woman, between 
whose life and hers there lay so wide a contrast. 
And then, looking at the unsunned face, from 
which all human hope and joy had quite died out, 
and noticing the half- weary droop of the head and 
the patient fold of the hands, she wondered what 
sort of a life Miss Brace's had been ; also whether 
any future could ever change her, as the past had 
changed this new-found friend of hers. 

After this they sat for a long time speaking no 
word. It was one of those drowsy, sunshiny after- 
noons when even thought moves sleepily along, 
and we just dream the time away, listening, if no 
other memory comes between, to the gentle speech 
of Nature, the musical, soft nutter of leaves, whis- 
pering to each other in the sunlight, the cool sway- 
ing of the wind through branches overhead, the 
chirp of lazy birds. 



ST. olave's. 103 

As they sat there the bells began to chime for 
afternoon service at the Cathedral, and presently 
the low tones of the organ came creeping along 
through the still air. The melody was scarcely 
distinct ; all they could hear was the faint sound 
drifting hither and thither, sometimes louder when 
the voices of the choristers joined, and then sink- 
ing into a murmur scarcely above the nutter of the 
ivy leaves round the oriel window. 

' ' That is your brother playing," said Alice, ' f I 
often come and listen here in service-time; hi*, 
music is very different from what we used to have 
in the old organist's reign. Dr. Steele scarcely 
ever played anything but Handel. My music- 
master used to be vexed with me for saying it, but 
I never could get to like Handel. Those immense, 
thundering choruses of his seem to crush one so, 
there is such a clamour of sound in them. I think 
the Titans and Cyclops would have enjoyed those 
choruses in the Messiah very much." 

Miss Bruce only smiled. She was not ac- 
quainted with the musical taste of the ancients. 

" Your brother plays Mendelssohn's music, and 
I like it a great deal better ; there is something 
tender, and graceful, and understandable about 



104 ST. olave's. 

it. Handel always reminds me of that great 
black elm-tree yonder, where the rooks are cawing, 
with its rough trunk and bare brown branches 
standing out against the sky, and Mendelssohn is 
like this acacia, a fountain of green leaves spark- 
ling in the sunshine; no majesty about it, but 
only a beauty that never wearies or crushes 
you. Do you think so V 3 

Janet looked mystified; these girlish fancies 
of Alice's were quite out of her way. She 
would have felt much more at home in talking 
about her tract district, or some little house- 
keeping matters. But Alice was in a dreamy 
mood this afternoon, and did not come down to 
commonalties. 

' ' I like to find pictures for things and people 
that I know," she continued, "when I come 
here to listen to the music. I was amusing 
myself yesterday by picking out a tree for each 
of my friends ; one, you know, that would describe 
their characters." 

Here Janet almost laughed, these quaint con- 
ceits amused her so. 

" That is a very new idea," she said ; " and 
did you find one for each of them ?" 



ST. olave's. 105 

" Yes. I thought that ivy yonder," and Alice 
pointed to one of the gables, " would do for 
Aunt Amiel; always the same, green in summer 
and winter, never much show about it you 
know, but always pleasant and comforting. And 
then she tries to cover the faults of every one 
about her, just as the ivy clothes that rough 
old red brick, and hides all its crumbling 
places. " 

"I wish ivy grew more plentifully. I shall 
like to know your Aunt Amiel. And what did 
you fix upon for yourself V 

" Oh ! I'm nothing. I don't keep the same 
two days together. I haven't grown into any 
sort of a thing yet. Well, then, I picked out 
that yew-tree for you — look yonder, growing 
beside that piece of broken column." 

Janet looked. It was a tall, straight, sym- 
metrical tree, its dark outline clearly picked out 
on the rising green sward behind ; close by it 
was a grey old column, snapped off two or 
three feet from the ground, with a few last 
year's leaves drifted into the broken crevices. 
As she looked, a great white butterfly poised 
itself for a moment on the topmost twig of the 



106 st. olave's. 

yew, and after fluttering its wings flew upward 
into the sunshine. 

"Don't be vexed, it really does remind me 
of you. It is so neat, and close, and quiet, 
never getting into a fuss when the wind blows, 
or tossing itself about like the other trees. 
And in the rain, too, its branches don't droop 
or drag, or look miserable ; neither showers nor 
sunshine make any difference to it, it is always 
still, and calm, and " 

Alice was going to say sad, but stopped ; 
she did not want to bring back the look which 
had almost faded away now. 

"Well, then," she continued, "I found one 
for your brother, too." 

"Ah! what was that ?" 

"Yon old cedar-tree by the library. It is 
the only tree in our garden that the storm 
can never beat through. You may sit there in 
the midst of a pitiless rain, and never a drop 
will reach you. I remember standing at the 
library door once in a terrible thunder storm, 
and a very little young bird came fluttering to 
one of the low branches for shelter. It nestled 
there so comfortably, and seemed to feel quite 



107 

safe. When the storm was over, it flew out 
again into the sunshine with not a feather 
ruffled." 

" My brother would smile to hear that." 

" Oh ! but you must not tell him, it is only 
my nonsense." 

Alice was still for awhile, and then went on. 

" There is not much beauty in my old cedar- 
tree, only it is strong, and steady, and trusty. 
I don't think Mr. Bruce is very attractive, not 
so much so, at least, as a good many people 
that I know, but when the rain comes he would 
be a good place to shelter under." 

<c How do you know ?" 

"I don't know it, I feel it. I can tell 
directly whether people are to be trusted or not, 
and I am quite sure it would be safe to get near 
him in a storm." 

Janet only smiled. She never talked much 
about this brother of hers, but it was the greatest 
joy she had to hear any one praise him. 

"There is just one more tree that I picked 
out. Look at that stag's horn, with the long 
cornery branches ; the wind always gives a squeak 
when it has to go through that tree, and so it 



108 

reminds me of Mrs. Archdeacon Scrymgeour, 
because she never opens her mouth without 
saying something out of tune about somebody." 

" I have not the pleasure of knowing Mrs. 
Scrymgeour. Is she not that tall, spare lady 
who sits in a stall near the prebends ?" 

"Yes, and she lives in that house, as tall 
and spare as herself, up at the north end of 
the Minster. Chapter Place always reminds me 
of a strong-minded woman who does not wear 
crinoline. When your antecedents are properly 
ascertained, she will call upon you, but not till 
then. I daresay if she knew you had once 
lived in the Court-house at Perth, she would 
ask you to dinner directly." 

"Then I hope you will not tell her." 

" I don't mean to, for you wouldn't enjoy it. 
I'm sure you wouldn't. But I shall turn into 
a stag's horn myself if I talk about Mrs. 
Scrymgeour, so I'll give over." 

All this time the music had been coming to 
them at intervals. Now a louder strain of it 
rolled across the Cathedral Close. The anthem 
had begun. 

"Ah !" said Alice, starting up and listening, 



109 

<c I know that — it is Spohr's e Blest are the 
Departed/ Mr. Bruce often plays that, he 
must be very fond of it; but it is too grand 
and solemn for me." 

The west doors had been opened, as they often 
were towards the close of afternoon service in 
summer-time, and the notes of the anthem 
could be clearly distinguished; its strange and 
weird-like modulations, too, and the sometimes 
sweet, sometimes mournful cadences. Now and 
then a young choiring voice would start away 
from the others, ringing clearly out upon the 
still air, then gradually sinking back and blend- 
ing with the graver men's tones, all bound and 
held in check by the overmastering, stately peal 
of the organ. 

Alice stood a little apart from Miss Bruce, 
her young face glowing with emotion, full of rest- 
less, unspoken thoughts. She looked very beau- 
tiful, standing there, half in light, half in shade, 
under the acacia tree, the sunshine cresting her 
brown hair, and shimmering on her dress, the 
leaf shadows playing over her face — that fair 
face upon which as yet no other shadows lay. 
Miss Bruce looked at her wistfully, as people 



110 st. olave's. 

who have suffered much do often look at young, 
innocent faces. 

When the last notes of the organ had worn 
themselves away, and only the nutter of the 
leaves broke the stillness, Alice sat down on 
the grass again, her arm over Miss Brace's 
knee, her fingers carelessly toying with the 
acacia blossoms that lay there. By-and-by she 
said — 

"It is very noble, it is very grand to be a 
musician." 

Janet thought she meant Handel or Men- 
delssohn, or that Spohr, whose strange music they 
had just been listening to. 

But Alice was thinking of David Bruce. 

Soon through the low bushes they could see. 
little groups of people wending their way across 
the Close. Dr. Crumpet, the Canon in Resi- 
dence, sailed away to his grey nest near the 
Deanery; the officiating clergy to their respec- 
tive berths by the cloisters; the little singing 
boys scampered helter-skelter down the steps, 
got their tops out of their pockets, and their 
whips from the statue niche in which they had 
lain during prayers, and set to work at a fresh 



ST. OLAVE's. Ill 

game. Last of all, with slow, tottering, uncer- 
tain steps, came the old men and women from 
the St. Olave's Almshouses. 

" The service is over, and Aunt Amiel will 
have finished her nap. Shall we go in ?" 

Miss Bruce laid the white flowers out of her 
lap, and then, hand-in-hand, like twin sisters of 
Hope and Patience, she and Alice Grey went 
back through that sunlighted garden to the oriel 
room. 



CHAPTER VIII. 

|! O, she is not awake yet," and Alice 
closed the door gently ; " Aunt Amiel 
sleeps long this afternoon. It must 
be the sunshine that makes her drowsy." 

<( I wonder if you would like to see over the 
house," she said, as they turned to go back into 
the garden; "most people are interested in it, 
because there are so many old stories belonging to 
it. This way, I will take you over the western side 
first, for that is the oldest part of the building." 

Janet followed. Alice led her through the 
broad, low entrance -hall, paved with alternate 
bars of black and grey marble, and decorated with 
suits of rusty old armour, to the great staircase. 
Half way up this stair was a shattered balus- 
trade, over which they paused, whilst Alice, with 



st. olave's. 113 

genuine loyalist fervour, told the story of Crom- 
well's ruthless assault, and the gallant defence of 
the Cavaliers. Then they went into what had 
formerly been the State apartments, which, though 
disused for centuries, still retained some traces of 
their former grandeur. There were tall, old- 
fashioned mirrors, all grey and mildewed now, 
with many a fold of cobweb drapery wreathing 
their tarnished frames. There was the bed with 
its tattered, moth-eaten, crimson velvet hangings, 
in which James Stuart had slept when he held his 
Court at St. Olave's ; and the Presence Chamber, 
as it was called, lined with tapestry of foreign 
workmanship, where Margaret Tudor received an 
address from the burghers of the city, as she 
passed through it on her way to Scotland. Out 
of this room a secret door behind the hang- 
ings led into another and smaller one, lighted by 
a single arrow-slit window, so contrived that it 
could be slided back into the thick wall, and its place 
supplied by a block of stone. Here, during the 
civil wars of Charles the First, one of the Royalist 
officers lay concealed, and here, when discovered, 
he was slain by the Protector's men. Alice 
pointed to a dark spot on the floor. 

VOL. I. I 



114 ST. olave's. 

"They say he was killed just here, and that 
his blood made that stain. I don't believe a 
word of it myself, but Lettice, that is one of 
our servants, is terribly afraid of this room, and 
wouldn't come into it after dark for anything 
you could give her." 

rt I have surely heard of this place before. 
A friend,"— Janet paused for awhile, and then 
went on quietly as ever. " Some one I once 
knew in Scotland told me of a house like this. 
The name, I think, was different, but from his 
description, the place must be the same." 

"Very likely. It was not always called the 
Old Lodge; indeed, I think that has only been 
its name since the Canons left it. And we 
have antiquarians come from all parts of the 
country, especially people who are going to 
rite histories. Was your friend an author? — 
what was his name ?" 

Janet did not answer ; she was gazing down 
through the little narrow window into the court 
below, where the water was falling with idle 
plash into the fountain-pond, scarce moving the 
lilies which slept upon its surface. Alice thought 
she had not heard, and from the saddened look 



st. olave's. 115 

which came into her face, she concluded Janet 
was musing over the deeds of darkness which 
had been done on the spot where they stood. 

" I am afraid I have troubled you with my 
doleful ditties/' she said ; " we will go down 
again now, and I will show you the pictures by 
way of change. Aunt Amiel is very proud of 
her Claudes and Poussins, though I don't think 
they are half so pretty as the engravings we see 
in the print-shops here. But I suppose that is 
my bad taste." 

They went through a long corridor, lighted 
at one end by a stained glass window, into what 
was generally called the drawing-room, though it 
had little indeed of the airy lightness which we 
associate with that name, being panelled like most 
of the Old Lodge rooms, with dark oak. Upon 
the walls hung some very fine landscapes by the 
old masters, one or two rare engravings, and 
a few of those quaint-looking architectural pieces 
which Prout was so fond of perpetuating. The 
great interest of the room, however, was in its 
furniture, which was all of carved oak, beautifully 
wrought in leaves, and flowers, and mediaeval 
work. Janet's attention was specially attracted 

i 2 



116 ST. olave's. 

by one piece, a cabinet, which stood in a recess 
near the window. It was small, but exquisitely- 
carved, almost like a miniature cathedral, with its 
pinnacles, and statue niches, and queer, grotesque 
little heads peeping out through masses of foliage. 

' ' I should like to open that cabinet for you," 
said Alice ; ' ' there are some rather curious things 
in it, which were sent to us from abroad. But 
Aunt Amiel has the key, and I don't like to dis- 
turb her for it just now." 

" Stay," she continued, for she saw something 
white gleaming out from one of the doors ; ( ' I 
believe it is unlocked." 

She pulled the door slightly, and it came open. 

" How strange ! Aunt Amiel is so very par- 
ticular about keeping this cabinet locked, and she 
always carries the key herself. She must have 
forgotten it." 

"Perhaps we ought not to open it," said 
Janet. 

* Oh ! yes we may. I have often shown it to 
people, but it is never left unlocked in this way. 
I suppose for fear any of the things should get 
lost." 

There were many curious relics in it, such as 



st. olave's. 117 

accumulate in ancient families — pieces of plate, 
of the style in use centuries ago, old coins, some 
Indian jewels, articles of ivory work — fans, balls, 
caskets — from China, and other curiosities of more 
or less value. The gleam of white which had 
attracted Alice's notice was a cordon of pearls, 
with tassels of filagree work ; it might be intended 
for a girdle, or head-dress, or necklace, for it 
could be untwisted to any size. Many of the 
pearls were discoloured, and the filagree work 
tarnished ; it had evidently not been worn for a 
long time. 

Alice and Miss Bruce stood for some time at 
the cabinet, hunting over the little drawers and 
cupboards which it contained, and which were fall 
of valuables of one kind and another. One of the 
doors was rather stiff, and as Alice was pushing it, 
she gave the cabinet a slight jerk, which seemed 
to loosen a spring somewhere, for suddenly a panel 
fell down, revealing two drawers. One of them 
was half open, it contained some old worn yellow 
letters tied together in a packet. 

"I suppose these are Aunt AmiePs private 
property, so we must not meddle with them," said 
Alice, as she closed the drawer, and attempted to 



118 ST. olave's. 

re-fasten the panel. But she could not manage 
it ; as often as she lifted it, it fell down again. 

" There may be a secret spring/' suggested Janet. 

"Perhaps so. I never knew of any drawers 
besides those outside ones, and no one would 
dream of that panel opening. But we will leave 
it. Aunt Amiel will set it right ; she must be 
awake by now, and I'll go and tell her about it." 

Alice went, leaving Janet there by the cabinet. 
Mrs. Amiel Grey was sitting in the oriel room, in 
her usual place by the window. Opposite to her, 
within the shade of the crimson curtains, the 
elaborate folds of Mrs. Archdeacon Scrymgeour's 
black moire antique rustled like November blasts 
among dead leaves. 

" Aunt Amiel/' said Alice, " we have been 
upsetting some of your treasures." 

" What is it, dear ? I did not hear you." 

"Some of your treasures, aunt. You know that 
old cabinet in the drawing-room. I found it open, 
and so I showed Miss Bruce some of the foreign 
things. And then, as I was trying to shut one of 
the drawers, a panel flew back, and there were 
some old letters in a drawer." 

Aunt Amiel's face grew pale. 



119 

" My child, you have surely not " 

" No, no, aunt, don't be afraid ; we didn't hurt 
anything. I have left everything just as it was. 
Only I was surprised to find the cabinet open at 
all. I know you generally keep it locked. I 
could not get the panel to fasten again, so I 
thought I had better come and tell you." 

" Excuse me one moment Mrs. Scrymgeour, — " 
and rising hastily, — much more hastily than was 
her wont, — Aunt Amiel left the room followed by 
Alice. 

Janet was still standing by the cabinet. All 
that she had seen of the letters when Alice took 
them out, was that the seal which fastened the 
outer one bore the stamp of a crest, but what the 
device was she could not tell, nor, indeed, had she 
tried, having little or no curiosity in her 
composition. 

Aunt Amiel looked nervously at her for a 
moment, then taking a small key from her watch- 
chain she locked the drawer, and touched with 
her foot a spring at the bottom of the cabinet, 
which sent the panel back again into its place. 
After that she locked the outer door, and tried it 
to see that it was quite safe. 



120 ST. olave's. 

"We will go back with you/' said Alice, as 
she turned to go away ; ' ' we were just coming 
into the oriel-room when I brought Miss Bruce 
in here to show her the paintings." 

They all went together, and Aunt Amiel took 
her place again near Mrs. Scrymgeour, only just 
a slight nutter upon her face ruffling its usual 
stillness. What a contrast there was between the 
two women. 

A winning old lady was Mistress Amiel Grey. 
There was a native refinement in all her ways, a 
quiet music in her voice, a rare purity in her 
aged face, which only a worthy life could have left 
there. She always dressed in black satin, with a 
clear starched neckerchief gathered closely round 
her throat, and fastened by a tiny gold brooch. 
Her silvery hair was smoothed beneath a widow's 
cap that had a plaited frill coming down under 
the chin,, as we see in old pictures. Her hands 
were very soft and delicate even yet, though 
they had thinned and wasted until the worn wed- 
ding-ring hung loosely upon her finger — the 
wedding ring which she had kept there through 
thirty years of widowhood. And there was a 
certain serene, stately self-possession in her every 



121 

step and motion, the courtly grace of high aristo- 
cratic breeding mingling with the bland urbanity 
which made the English gentlewoman of fifty 
years ago so superior to the starched and crino- 
lined " lady " of the present day. 

As for Mrs. Scrymgeour — but the Archdeacon's 
widow has already been introduced to the public, 
and the ceremony need not be repeated. 

She had called to inquire the particulars of a 
" case/' which had been sent to her by the clergy- 
man of the parish for relief, and after the needful 
information was given, she launched out into 
general conversation, which was interrupted by the 
entrance of Alice. When the three ladies re- 
turned from the drawing-room, Mrs. Scrym- 
geour rose with a stately sweep, which shook out 
the folds of her dress and made them rustle again 
more gustily than ever. She shook hands with 
Alice, and was about to resume her seat. 

"My friend Miss Bruce, Mrs. Scrymgeour," 
said Alice. 

Mrs. Scrymgeour bowed, very politely of 
course. Any one whom she met in Mrs. Amiel 
Grey's house was entitled to a certain amount 
of politeness, but her look had a " shake-hands- 



122 

with-me-if-you-dare " sort of defiance, which 
Janet did not care to meet, and so she sat down 
at some distance and took out her work. 

It was Mrs. Archdeacon Scrymgeour's foible 
— peculiarity she called it — to be very particular 
as to antecedents. 

"Descent, my dear Miss Luckie," she was 
accustomed to say to that good-tempered little 
maiden lady ; " descent is my strong point. I 
never overlook descent. Birth and breeding in 
my opinion come before everything else, before 
everything else." 

To which startling proposition Miss Luckie 
vaguely assented, standing too much in awe of 
the Archdeacon's widow to attempt a contradiction. 

In addition, Mrs. Scrymgeour had a peculiar 
way of looking at people who were introduced to 
her for the first time, and of whose antecedents 
she was not perfectly certain, — people for instance 
who had brought no letters to the Close families, 
and did not use crests on their envelopes. There 
was something in her face and the tones of her 
voice, which seemed to say as plainly as any words 
could have spoken it, " Who was your father ; 
— who was your mother ?" Indeed, it is highly 



st. olave's. 123 

uncertain whether she would have thought it 
proper to offer the rites of hospitality to Mel- 
chisedec himself, had he come in her way, on 
account of the exceedingly unsatisfactory nature 
of that individual's parental relationships. 

She and Mrs. Amiel Grey had been in the 
midst of an interesting subject, and resumed it as 
soon as the introduction was fairly out of hand. 

"Unpardonable, my dear Mrs. Grey, perfectly 
unpardonable, and evincing an amount of moral 
obliquity which is in the highest degree obnoxious/ 

When Mrs. Scrymgeour got into a lofty cen- 
sorious vein, her language expanded in proportion, 
until it became truly magnificent. 

" It was wrong," said Aunt Amiel, " very 
wrong; but her early training was faulty, and 
therefore I pitied rather than blamed her." 

" Of course, my dearest Mrs. Grey. You are 
so sweetly amiable," and Mrs. Scrymgeour waved 
her hand towards the arm chair. "Indeed if I 
were asked to give my opinion, I should say that 
charity was the leading peculiarity in your mental 
idiosyncracy. But excuse me if I say that really in 
this case you are allowing your beautiful forgiving 
spirit to lead you quite beyond the limits of 



124 st. olave's. 

propriety. The indiscretion you have mentioned, 
is one which an individual of the female sex would 
never be justified in overlooking or pardoning/'' 

" The Great Judge is very merciful, and when 
He can forgive, it is not for us to be inexorable. 
She was a girl of wild, impetuous nature, and she 
suffered bitterly for her fault." 

" I hope she did, Mrs. Grey, I hope she did. 
Such conduct is an everlasting stain upon genteel 
society, and of double blackness when perpetrated 
by a young person of such exceedingly respectable 
family connections. Pray what became of the 
miserable infant, the wretched offspring of this 
unprincipled creature V 

Mrs. Amiel Grey winced rather, and shrank 
back with a deprecating gesture. Mrs. Scrymge- 
our's expressions were at times too entirely bitter. 

"It was sent — at least some friends took 
charge of it, and brought it up. The mother 
never knew what became of it." 

" Of course not, such creatures are utterly 
destitute of parental susceptibilities. Is she living 
yet — the woman I mean, or rather the shameless 
thing, for woman I will not call her ?" 

" I cannot tell. Soon after the birth of the 



125 

child her mind gave way, and she was placed 
under restraint. I have heard nothing of her for 
many, many years, most likely she is dead or — or 
still in confinement." 

"A providential dispensation, — quite a providen- 
tial dispensation. But, my dear Mrs. Grey, I 
must go. Before I return home I wish to call at 
the Deanery and inform Dr. Somers that Martin 
Speller has not been in his place at the Cathedral 
prayers for the last two mornings; such conduct is 
reprehensible, very reprehensible, and the autho- 
rities ought to look into it. I shall suggest that 
the Dean stops his allowance until the cause of 
absence is satisfactorily explained. Perfect obedi- 
ence to the stipulations of the charter is the very 
least which can be expected from parties who are 
dependent upon ecclesiastical beneficence." 

Mrs. Scrymgeour rose, pressed Aunt AmiePs 
hand, performed the same ceremony upon Alice's, 
and then made an elaborate cast-iron curtsey 
to Miss Bruce, who had not spoken a word during 
the conversation. Then she swept majestically 
out of the room, and when she was gone it seemed 
as if the scared gods of household peace and 
quietness returned. 



126 

" Come nearer to me, my dears, my sight is not 
so good as it used to be, and I like to have my 
friends where I can see them." 

So Alice and Miss Bruce came at Aunt AmiePs 
bidding, and they all three sat in the oriel-window 
that looked out on the grey towers of the Minster. 

A quiet trio. Alice just setting sail from the 
golden shores of girlhood, the whole wide range of 
life before her, no clouds creeping up over the 
blue sky of youthful promise, not the faintest 
murmur of a coming storm to stir the bright 
waters over which her little craft rocked so gaily. 
Janet Bruce becalmed in mid-ocean, with neither 
breeze of hope nor wave of tumult to move her. 
Aunt Amiel slowly nearing the harbour of rest, 
where storms come no more, where light and 
glory wait. 

By-and-by the two elder ladies fell into a chat 
about their early days, and Alice slipped away from 
them to the other end of the long room, where she 
sat down to the piano and began playing little 
snatches of music softly, so as not to disturb their 
conversation. It was a way she had of talking to 
herself when no one else could understand her 
thoughts — a sort of outlet for the vague, dreamy 



st. olave's. 127 

fancies that often went floating through her soul, 
and for which she could find no other voice. Some- 
times the music was quiet and low, then quick and 
sudden, like sunlight trickling through green leaves, 
anon mellowing down into some old familiar tune. 

Presently she stopped, leaned her arms over the 
music desk, and looked out into the garden, where 
long sweeps of shadow were slowly chasing away 
the lingering lights of evening. Then with a smile, 
as though gathering up some pleasant memory, 
she began a strain of solemn cathedral music, 
Slowly, hesitatingly, with many pauses and breaks 
she went through it, often mistaking the chords, 
sometimes playing the melody with one hand only, 
but always keeping upon her face that same quiet, 
contented smile. 

Just then David Bruce, who had promised to 
call for his sister during the evening, came past 
the window and heard her. It was some of his 
own music the child was playing — the same piece 
she had heard at the cathedral. He did not go 
in, for he was afraid that would stop her, but he 
stood by the glass door, under the shadow of the 
great cedar tree, and listened to her for long. 

There was great sweetness to him in her way of 



128 

playing. He smiled at the fitful, uncertain man- 
ner in which she gathered up the air, stopping now 
and then to correct herself, sometimes playing 
wrong notes or hurrying the time, or repeating a 
phrase over and over again. It seemed to him he 
would rather have heard it so, marred and broken 
though it was, than with all the grace and finish 
which a complete orchestra could have given. 

After awhile he passed on to the old porch and 
through the long corridor that led to the library. 
Alice was playing still and did not hear his knock, 
so he went in unseen, in the half-darkness of late 
evening, and sat down behind the shadow of the 
curtains, where he could listen to her still. 

The two ladies at the other end of the room 
talked in quiet monotone of the life that was 
long ago past for them. Twilight was silently 
gathering, and the great darkening west front of 
the Minster seemed to cast a deeper shadow into 
the room. 

Miss Bruce knitted on with quiet, straightfor- 
ward energy. It was just a habit she had got 
into, this of always doing something. Her hands 
never folded together with that gentle, uncon- 
scious clasp which happy people use, but were 



st. olave's. 129 

always moving with steady mechanical activity 
in the purpose-like routine of long continued 
use. Aunt Amiel leaned back in her great arm 
chair, her fair pale face in the dainty setting 
of its muslin frill, restful and quiet as an infant's. 

" Your accent/' she said, " reminds me of some 
friends I knew a long time ago up in the North, 
near Perth." 

Janet looked at her with a momentary, ques- 
tioning glance, then the eyelids bent down 
again, and the face gathered up its hushed ex- 
pression, in which there was neither hope nor fear. 

" I think I heard some one say you came to St. 
Olave's from Perth," Mrs. Grey continued. 

" Yes ; we lived there many years." 

" It is a pleasant place, the country round is so 
very beautiful. I remember those Inches, and 
the quiet walk under the foot of the brae past 
Kinnoul." 

So did Miss Bruce remember them, too well. 
But when eighteen years lie between us and any 
sorrow, we learn to look at it calmly. Yet the 
eyelids drooped very low now, and the fingers 
faltered a little over their work. The voice only 
was as quiet as ever. 

VOL. I. K 



130 st. olave's. 

" Yes, we were very proud of the Perth Inches. 
I remember it was the first walk to which we took 
any stranger who came to see us." 

" It is more than forty years/' Aunt Amiel 
continued, " since I was in that part of the 
country, and I suppose all my friends must have 
died away before this. Perth is not my native 
place, but the Dean had friends there, and I was 
visiting them." 

Miss Bruce made an attempt to change the 
conversation by inquiring how long Mrs. Amiel 
Grey had lived at the Old Lodge. 

' ' Nearly thirty years my dear." Aunt Amiel 
had such a way of calling people " my dear" — 
" nearly thirty years. It is a long time. The 
place was used as a residence for the Canons, 
and when they removed to the new house in the 
Close I came here. But sometimes we go down 
to the cottage at Norlands. Do you know Nor- 
lands ?" 

Janet replied that she did not. 

" It is a village three or four miles away from 
here, where I have a little estate, and in the 
summer time we generally spend a few weeks 
there. Alice likes it better than St. Olave's. She 



131 

was always so fond of the country. She generally 
has a young party there on her birthday in Sep- 
tember, the 7th of September. " 

" Ah ! is Miss Grey's birthday on the 7th of 
September ? It is my brother's birthday too." 

"Indeed; well then, my dear, I'll tell you 
what we will do. You and Mr. Bruce shall join 
Alice's next party. Norlands is a sweet spot, and 
he can keep his birthday there as pleasantly as 
anywhere. You must consider it a settled 
thing." 

Janet smiled, the old lady's pleasant friend- 
liness touched her heart. After that, there was 
silence for a little while, and then Aunt Amiel 
began in that slow, peaceful tone of voice, which 
aged people often use in talking over their long- 
ago memories : — 

" Yes, a very pleasant walk, the Perth Inches. 
There used to be such splendid sunsets over the 
hills. We often sat and watched them from the 
drawing-room window at the Firs. That is right, 
my dear Miss Bruce, do put that knitting of 
your's down. I am sure you must be very tired." 

" Yes." 

" It was a nice home. I always said the Scot- 
it 2 



132 

tish people had more heart in them than we 
smooth-tongued English. But things are very- 
much changed now. Dunnie was a curly-headed 
little fellow of three years old then, a frank lad, 
but wilful rather." 

Merciful twilight, that gathering so closely 
round them, hid the utter paleness which crept 
over Janet's face, and the drawn look of the still 
lips. Oh ! these sudden breaks in the smooth 
green sod of daily life, these rifts which open at 
our feet, and show us the graves beneath. It was 
his name, the name left unspoken for so long. 
But she held her peace, and Aunt Amiel con- 
tinued : — 

(C A wilful lad, and fond of change — very fond of 
change. I always told his mother she spoiled 
him rather ; but then he was an only child, and 
heir to a good property, and that you know is a 
trying position for a child, especially where there 
is no father to exercise authority." 

" It is," said Miss Bruce, seeing that she was 
expected to reply. And no one would have 
noticed any change in her voice. 

" I remember he took to me very much when 
first I went. He used to come and lav his head 



st. olave's. 133 

in my lap — such a bonnie, curly head — and look 
up in my face with his great blue eyes ; Dunnie 
had very beautiful eyes,, and he used to call me 
his dear, dear auntie. But he got tired of it in a 
few days. Another lady came who used to give 
him sweeties, and he quite forgot Aunt Amiel. 
Alice dear/' and Mrs. Grey raised her voice and 
looked towards the other end of the room, ' ( that 
is a very curious thing you are singing. What is 
the name of it ?" 

" ' The Three Fishers/ aunt/' and Alice took 
it from the desk and read out the last verse : — 

" c Three corpses lay out on the shining sand. 
In the morning gleam as the tide went down, 
And the women are weeping and ringing their hands 
For those who will never come back to the town. 
But men must work and women must weep, 
And the sooner it's over the sooner to sleep, 
And good-bye to the bar and its moaning.' " 

" Very peculiar words, my dear, very peculiar, 
and I can't say I like them ; but songs now are 
very different to what they used to be when I was 
a girl. Dear me, how strange/' and Aunt Amiel 
dropped her voice to the old low tones, whilst 
Alice went on with her singing, "how strange to 
think that it is more than forty years ago. I have 



134 

scarcely ever heard of little Dunnie since, except 
once, I cannot tell how long ago, I got some word 
of an engagement of his, which was broken off on 
account of — of a circumstance very disgraceful to 
him ; in fact, I was speaking of it to Mrs. Scrym- 
geour when you came in, though I mentioned 
no names." 

' ' I was very grieved about it/' continued Aunt 
Amiel ; " such things ought not to be ; they cause 
great sorrow. But there was something about 
Dunnie which made me fear he might turn out 
rather wild, unless a great change came over him. 
Alice dear, ring the bell for lights. I am 
sure Miss Bruce' s fingers fidget as if they wanted 
to be at that knitting of her's again. Ah ! my 
dear, you are so industrious, but by the time you 
are as old as I am, your hands won't move quite 
so quickly.-" 

Janet looked at Aunt Amiel, and hoped — God 
forgive her for it — that long ere such weight of 
years had rolled over her head, she might have 
done with the weariness of life, and be quietly 
laid to rest where none of these things ever come. 

Alice turned to ring the bell, and then David 
Bruce was obliged to come forward from behind 



135 

the shadow of the curtain. She sprang to meet 
him with a pleased,, gay, girlish grace, that had no 
stiffness, no constraint about it, and led him up to 
the further end of the room. 

" Aunt Amiel, this is Mr. Bruce. " 

" I am glad to see Mr. Bruce, for his sister's 
sake, and I bid him welcome," said the old lady, 
with a certain courtly tone in her voice. 

Dayid hurried forward to prevent her from 
rising, and she laid her hand in his with grave, 
sweet stateliness. Then, as if more at home with 
Janet, she turned to her and resumed the conver- 
sation which had been interrupted, thus leaving 
Mr. Bruce to the care of Alice, who skimmed away 
again to the piano. 

" I have been trying," she said, " to remember 
that piece you once played for me ; will you play 
it again ?" 

He began, striking with the vigour of a master- 
hand the grand chords which she had touched so 
hesitatingly. Listening to him, there came into 
her face the old look of wonderment and reve- 
rence. 

" Ah!" she said, when he had finished, "it is 
very grand. Will you tell me who wrote it ?" 



136 st. olave's. 

" An unknown composer/' replied David, not 
even the shadow of a smile changing his firm set 
countenance. 

" Unknown ; I wonder if he is living. I wish 
I knew him. I think I could reverence him very- 
much. I could almost " 

He looked at her curiously, questioningly. She 
paused, and then said — 

' ' Will you let me play it again now, and put 
me into the right way ? I want to try it whilst it 
is fresh in my thoughts." 

" You are fond of church music, then," said 
David; " there are not many girls of your age 
that care much for it. They would rather have 
one of Stephen Glover's songs than the grandest 
anthem that was ever composed." 

" Yes ; I always liked those old chants and 
choruses they have in cathedrals, except Handel's. 
I don't care for Handel's. Perhaps it is because 
I once saw his portrait, and that took all the 
charm out of his music. But Tallis, and Bird, 
and Gibbon, I do like them, and I always envy 
the little chorister-boys when I see them go into 
their places hugging those huge old sendee books. 
I long to turn over the pages too." 



137 

" If you care for that, then, you may come to 
me any time, and I will take you into the organ- 
pew. There is an old closet there, full of church 
music, which has been gathering the dust for a 
couple of hundred years, and you could revel 
amongst it to your heart's content." 

" Oh ! Mr. Bruce," and Alice's eyes positively 
danced, " how good you are. I should like it so 
much ; when may I come V 

"Any time before the morning service; next 
Saturday if you like, I am generally there early 
on a Saturday morning. But I give you warning, 
it is a terribly dusty place." 

" I don't care for the dust if only I can see the 
music, and besides, I have wanted for ever so long 
to get into that comfortable crimson nest where 
you are perched up. I shall come then next 
Saturday morning, an hour before the sendee. 
And now will you hear me play that air, or rather 
try to play it ?" 

He gave her his seat and stood beside her. She 
went on steadily for a little while, choosing out 
the notes slowly and deliberately. Then she 
stopped. 

" Oh ! I have forgotten, what comes next ?" 



138 st. olave's. 

He bent over her, and put her fingers on the 
right keys, — those little white taper fingers, 
how tractably they obeyed the guidance of his 
strong ones ! 

" Thank you, I shall soon know it now." 

She looked very bonnie, sitting there in the 
bright lamp-light. Spite of her young face and 
girlish innocent ways, there was an unmis- 
takable atmosphere of high breeding about her, a 
certain royalty of look and gesture. David Bruce 
felt the contrast. She was the high-born English 
maiden, affluent in life and enjoyment; he the 
poor, unknown organist, struggling for a position. 
She, made to nestle in the warm-lined lap of 
luxury, he to toil for daily bread and daily 
comfort. 

"Ah, what a discord \" he said, as she lighted 
on a false note, and he swept her hand off the 
keys, and played the chord himself. But it was 
not that discord which had disturbed him. 

She turned quickly round, and looked intohisface. 

" I beg your pardon," he said, " it was a sort 
of professional feeling that came over me. You 
know I am in the habit of scolding my pupils now 
and then." 



139 

" Yes, I see. I was not surprised, only your 
voice sounded rather cross." And then she added 
with a touching gentleness, ' ' I forgot ; it must be 
very terrible to you to hear anything discordant. 
"Will you give me the right notes V 

He guided her hand again, and then she went 
steadily through to the end. 

" You were singing just now, but that piece did 
not suit your voice. Bring me your portfolio, and 
let me choose something for you." 

" Mr. Bruce, I cannot sing when any one is 
listening. If I had known you were here, I should 
not have tried that song." 

" Just do as I tell you, bring me your port- 
folio." 

With a quiet, docile air, as if already taking 
her natural place of pupil, she fetched it. He 
chose out a translation of the German song 
" Agatha," and playing over the prelude himself, 
told her to begin. Her voice shook a good deal 
at first, but he managed the accompaniment 
skilfully, changing it now and again, so as to help 
her. She gained courage soon, and began to sing 
with more feeling. 

She had a very pure, limpid voice, a high 



140 ST. olave's. 

soprano, with a silver-like ring in some of its 
tones. It had not been much cultivated, and 
there was no art or skill in its modulations, but 
it just seemed to flow on with an easy, unconscious 
sort of grace. Little by little, as he sat there 
listening to her untaught efforts, guiding and 
correcting, and sustaining her, David Bruce felt 
his position readjust itself. Here, at least, she 
was far beneath him, here he could forget all 
social difference, and stand proudly enough her 
superior, treading firmly and regally, where she 
only came with trembling little footsteps. 

This was a pleasant feeling. For, after all, 
the relation between a man and a woman is never 
satisfactory, unless he holds the highest place, and 
she, through all accidents of birth or fortune, 
comes to look up to him as superior to herself. 
And Alice seemed very easily to let him slide into 
this position of authority. She fell at once into 
her own place, resting on, and acknowledging 
his power. 

It was Alice's nature to trust. Everywhere she 
seemed to feel out for something upon which to 
lean. It was this assurance of certain strength 
and steadiness, compensating for her own lack of 



ST. olave's. 141 

"both, that had drawn her so to Janet Bruce. It 
was this same want of some guiding hand which 
made her now look up to David, and begin, half 
unconsciously,, to lean upon him, taking his 
thoughts, so far as she could comprehend them, 
for her own. 

After that they began to speak of music. For 

David Bruce, unlike many others of his profession, 

had a great and earnest love for it, taking it not 

merely as one way amongst others of earning 

bread or fame, but looking at it as a life purpose, 

a great and noble talent, by which the minds of 

others might be purified. And Alice listened 

with girlish wonderment and mute reverence, 

whilst he, finding in her something that with far 

off voice responded to himself, spoke of his own 

thoughts, and purposes, and longings. Again, as 

before, when she had heard these thoughts shaped 

out, not in words, but music, a strange, new world 

opened before her, glimpses of what she might be, 

of what she would be, if only such a guiding hand 

as his could be always near, to put her ignorant 

steps into the right way. 

And so David Bruce gave Alice her first 
lesson. 



142 st. olave's. 

" Brother," said a quiet voice, from the farther 
end of the room. 

But neither of them heard. 

" Brother Davie/' and Janet came and laid her 
hand on his arm, " it is getting late, and I have 
some little matters to attend to at home. Shall 
we be going ?" 

The words brought him back into the common 
track of work-day life. Alice was sorry about 
their going home so soon, and would fain have 
made Janet stay another hour, but Miss Bruce 
said Tibbie would be wearying for their return, so 
she was obliged to let them go. 

" My dear," said Aunt Amiel, just before the 
visitors took their departure, " I have been making 
a little arrangement with Miss Bruce this even- 
ing, which I am sure will please you very much. 
She and Mr. Bruce will join your birthday party 
to Norlands, in September. Neither of them 
has ever seen the place, and I know it will be a 
great treat to you to have the opportunity of 
showing them all the objects of interest in the 
neighbourhood. Of course that is if Mr. 
Bruce' s engagements will permit him to join 
you." 



143 

Alice's cheeks Hushed with undisguised pleasure 
as she looked up into David's face. 

" You will go, Mr. Bruce, will you not ? I 
wonder I never thought before of asking your 
sister if she had seen Norlands. Say that you 
will go, and then I shall have the happiness of 
thinking about it all the time until September." 

Was it something in the tones of her voice, or 
the clear, full glance of her sunny blue eyes, or 
was it a mere fancy that crept over David Bruce, 
and brought back to his memory as he looked at 
her, an old remembered face — the face of the man 
who had wronged his sister, and laid upon her 
whole life a shadow which could never pass away ? 

It might be only a fancy. And yet, as David 
turned towards Janet, her eyes, too, were fastened 
upon Alice Grey, and her countenance seemed 
drawn, as with sudden pain. 

Alice opened the door for them. Holding 
David's hand in hers, looking straight up into his 
face, she said, frankly and innocently — 

" I should like you to come again soon. You 
have done me a great deal of good." 




CHAPTER IX. 

|AVID BRUCE scarcely knew what 
reply lie made to these last-spoken 
words of Alice Grey's. Something 
abont professional duties at the Minster was all he 
could remember; then he took his sister's arm 
under his, and they went out together into the 
still Close. 

They were generally very quiet, so neither won- 
dered that the other spoke not. It was getting 
late. The moon had risen an hour ago, and a few 
stars shimmered out on the scarcely dark sky. 

Like some old Titan, the Cathedral stretched its 
huge, irregular bulk athwart the straight lines of 
light and shadow which banded the green sward. 

Greyly, and with a ghost-like glimmer, the 
moonlight crested its ' sharply-cut battlements, 



145 

crept from tip to tip of the airy pinnacles, and 
pencilled out the delicate fretwork of the statue 
niches. Clearly, more clearly than ever in sun- 
shine, the quaint old figures upon the gurgoyles 
stretched out their lean and battered faces. On 
the great lozenge window over the south entrance, 
the light nickered in faint, pearly tints, which 
seemed continually changing and re-arranging like 
the shifting forms of a kaleidoscope. 

The east front was in full light. It was a grand 
dream of architecture that east front of St. Olave's 
Cathedral. All the dim old fancies and conceits 
of monkish times, found expression there. Bravely 
the moonshine traced out the flowing lines of the 
great window, and lighted up its storied compart- 
ments. Curiously carved faces looked out from 
the corbels ; some merry and jubilant, others 
stormy as with passion, others drawn in sudden 
pain ; some grotesque and mocking, many stony 
with despair and hate. Strange weird faces, every 
human feeling pictured on them as the sculptor's 
fancy led. Above them, ranged round the arch of 
the window, with full robes falling to their feet, 
hands clasped in perfect rest, and brows bound 
with victor wreaths, were the statues of saints and 

VOL. I. L 



146 st. olave's. 

martyrs, looking down with pale, passionless faces 
upon the struggling figures below. There they 
stood, asking no questions, betraying no secrets of 
the monkish times that had fashioned them, 
speaking no word of the six centuries of human 
life upon which they had kept watch ; just grand, 
and calm, and silent. 

Was this some thought of the old monks carved 
in stone and speaking to the uplifted eyes of men, 
age after age ? Would they teach us thus silently, 
of the soul's progress, even the same with us as 
with them — that only through passion, strife, and 
suffering, men mount to rest, and climb over wreck 
after wreck of human hope to the heights of 
eternal repose? Was that grand old Cathedral 
front, gleaming out in the moonlight, an allegory 
of life; joy, tumult, strife, passion, pain, despair; 
after these the crowned rest, the folded hands, 
the gathered robes, the wreathed brow ? Perhaps 
it might be so. And above them all, whitely out- 
lined on the sky, catching upon it a glory brighter 
than all the rest, uprose the Cross, symbol of the 
faith, through which alone all victory is won. 

So David and Janet came home together. 
For a long time the tread of their own footsteps 



st. olave's. 147 

was the only sound they heard, except the whirr of 
a bat's wing swooping round in the shadow behind 
the Chapter House, or the eerie, harp-like wail that 
floated down from the belfry tower. As they 
reached the north boundary the bell struck ten, 
and the old porter came out to shut up the Close, 
rattling his keys and clashing the great gates with 
a clang that resounded again and again from the 
old grey houses. After that all was still. 

St. Olave's was a quiet little city — a very quiet 
little city. At the hour of ten scarcely any one 
was about, for in the summer time, no lectures 
or amusements were afloat. Now and then from 
some public-house a man would skulk out and 
make his way along the shady side of the street, 
or some caped and belted policeman flashed the 
light of his lantern across a dark passage, and 
broke the silence with his heavy tramp. Once 
only, as they neared the outskirts of the city, 
David and his sister overtook and passed a young 
couple walking arm-in-arm, walking slowly, lin- 
geringly, looking often into each other's faces and 
speaking in those low, soft tones which lovers use 
for a little while and then generally lay aside. 

Passing them, Janet thought of a long-ago time 

l 2 



148 

when, over the green and pleasant inches of Perth, 
beneath snch tranquil sky as this, she had walked 
not alone, lingering as they did, speaking as they 
did. And with the thought a slow, dull sense of 
pain crept through her. But she had learned to 
cover up all these things under an uncomplaining 
silence, and she spoke no word. 

Soon they reached home, passed up the laurel 
walk, tipped now with thousand sparkles of moon- 
light, and into the quiet little parlour where Tibbie 
had lighted the lamp, and placed the books ready 
for worship. The psalm which David read for 
that night had this verse in it, a verse which has 
brought its message of healing to many a heart, 
since, in his wilderness solitude, old David medi- 
tated it — 

1 ' Oh, tarry thou the Lord's leisure ; be strong 
and He shall comfort thine heart, and put thou 
thy trust in the Lord." 

It came over Janet's heart like some sweet tune, 
charming down discordant thoughts, staying all 
questionings. Yes, she could wait. 

" Davie ! " she said, when prayer was over, and 
she was going to bid him good-night. 

He looked at her dreamily, as one who peers 



149 

through some pleasant veil of thought to far 
reality. 

" Davie, I have heard of him to-night." 

No need to say the name — no need to add any- 
thing to that vague, indefinite word, which, for any 
one else, might serve for half creation. There was 
but one for them in all the world who needed to 
be so spoken of. The dreamy look passed quickly 
off from David's face, and one fixed, almost angry, 
came in its place. 

" Jeanie, how could she ? — how dare she ?" 

" Hush, Davie, she knows nothing. She only 
remembers him as a little child." 

" Cast him off, Jeanie," and David made an im- 
petuous movement with the arm on which his 
sister's hand was resting. She kept it there 
though. " I wish you had never seen him. He 
has maimed all our life, he " 

" Was once very kind to us — very kind to both 
of us — we must not forget everything." 

David looked down upon her reverently, now 
for the first time, in the new light that had dawned 
upon him, thinking how very bitter the past must 
have been, which forced her to speak of any human 
love with that word " once." 



150 ST. olave's. 

" Jeanie, you are very good." Then he stooped 
down and kissed her lips — the quiet, folded lips 
that would never know any warmer kiss than his, 
and, bidding her good-night, they parted. 

After she had gone he sat for a long time at 
the table by the window, leaning his head upon 
his hands. When, at last he lifted it, the still, 
peaceful look had come back to his face. Then 
he took his alto solo from the music desk, where 
he had left it in the afternoon, and re-arranged it 
for a soprano voice. Before this was done the 
small morning hours had struck, but he felt no 
weariness. Was it the music itself, its grand, 
sweet chords and luring melodies which brought 
that pleasant smile, and smoothed out the heavy 
folds of thought from his great forehead ? Or was 
it a voice — Alice Grey's voice — that sang on still 
in his memory, and wiled the night away with its- 
sweetness ? 



CHAPTER X. 




Hi ND Alice— what of Alice Grey 
I For, that same night, long after 



the lights had been pnt out, one by one, in the 
grey old houses round about the Close, and not 
the tramp of a solitary footstep was to be heard 
any more in the quiet streets, she sat up in her 
own room, in the shadow of the white curtains, her 
hands clasped upon the broad, old-fashioned win- 
dow-seat, her forehead leaning against the heavy 
carved oak framework. And over her young face, 
as she sat there looking out into the moonlighted 
Cathedral Close, there lay a pleasant smile, an 
innocent girlish smile, half wonder, half hope. 

Alice's was one of those unformed, impressible 
natures which take the stamp of every passing in- 



152 

fluenee. There was much in her that responded 
to the noble and beautiful, much thought music, 
which, like that slumbering in the Memnon statue, 
only needed the dawn to awaken it. She had the 
longing, native to every girPs nature, for some 
firm stay to rest upon — some mind stronger than 
her own, on which she might lean and be safe. 
Responsive, as a finely-tuned instrument, to 
every touch of harmony or discord, trembling to 
every waft of kindness, living upon it as flowers 
do upon air and sunshine, she was and would 
always be very much the creature of circumstances, 
taking on every passing mood of feeling, and re- 
flecting unconsciously the tone of mind of those 
among whom she lived. 

And now, in the music of her young life, play- 
ful hitherto, and tripping, as some merry dance 
tune, a new chord had been struck, to which she 
listened wonderingly, thinking it passing sweet, 
yet scarcely able the while, to fathom all its mean- 
ing. Dimly stealing over her, with the memory 
of that evening, there came the pleasant sense of 
rest in superior strength; of a certain control 
which, however some people may laugh at it, is 
always very sweet to a true woman, no matter how 



153 

strong or weak her nature. It was the thought of 
this rest, this sense of protection and strength, sur- 
rounding her in David Bruce' s presence, that 
brought the smile to her face as she sat there, in 
the half dark. And it was the strange, new feel- 
ing of life which he had given her — life full of 
thoughts dim as yet, and shapeless, that gave to 
that smile its wonderment and almost awe. 

Bright, sunshiny Alice Grey ! Flower born 
to bloom through the light of a summer day; 
must night ever come to you, as it comes to all 
things? Must that unwrinkled brow ever wear 
the crown of suffering, and those hands, clasped 
very restfully now, grasp the pilgrim staff so rough 
often, and heavy. How far for you, after this 
passing girlhood of yours, must that Cathedral 
allegory come true ! Jubilant and gay-hearted 
now, have you to toil through pain, passion, weari- 
ness, despair, to the sceptred rest which is above 
them all? 

Bonnie Alice Grey ! 

The Minster bell chimed twelve, every stroke 
smiting with a heavy crash upon the air. After 
the last, the sound drifted slowly up and down the 
Close for a long time, beaten back by the high 



154 

walls of the Deanery, and getting entangled 
among the Cloister arches. When finally it died 
away, there was just one long, sharp, eerie sigh 
from the haunted belfry-tower. 

Then Alice drew the curtains and lay down to 
sleep, the winsome smile still brooding on her 
face, and the chords of that music which David 
Bruce had played floating dreamily through her 
thoughts. 



CHAPTER XI. 

sHilKlBs HE yellow sunlight of a July after- 
E^JItiSm noon flooded the old elm-trees 
tet ,LJjS!f at the west corner of the Cathe- 
dral Close of St. Olave's. It trickled down in 
a golden shower, from leaf to leaf; it glinted 
through in little sparkles to the gnarled black 
branches underneath, and then it rested sleepily 
on the moss-covered roofs of a row of almshouses, 
built from the Close boundary down to the gate 
of the old Lodge. They were quaint, picturesque 
old houses. Many-coloured lichens, brown, russet, 
golden and grey, dappled the overhanging eaves ; 
patches of house -leek, and even whole plants of 
wall-flowers sprung up between the interstices of 
the stone coping, and fattened bravely in the sun- 
shine. The high-pointed gables at each end 



156 

afforded shelter to a colony of swallows, who twit- 
tered pleasantly through the dreamy summer 
afternoons, or, when conversationally inclined, 
perched themselves in detachments of threes and 
fours on the open casement-window of the middle 
house, to have a friendly colloquy with Mrs. 
Marris's magpie, who was taking the air in his 
wicker-cage. 

Over the centre doorway was a crumbling coat 
of arms, surmounted by the statue of an old lady 
in ruff and farthingale, the foundress of the insti- 
tution. In her left-hand she held a distaff ; the 
right was lifted, and pointed to an inscription over 
her head, wherein it was stated that these houses 
were built by Dame Margery Grey, in loving re- 
membrance of her husband, Roger Grey, who de- 
parted this life in the year of our Lord, 1670, 
having been Bishop of St. Olave's for twenty years. 
Round the doorway was a scroll, bearing this in- 
scription in almost illegible characters — 

" Thine ' * Lord ' are ■ all " things, 
And • of ' thine ■ own • have ■ we • given * thee." 

Scarce fifty yards away, St. Olave's Cathedral 

towered in grey, majestic stillness. A flood of 

unclouded sunshine poured down now upon the 



157 

west front. Sculptured saints and apostles, 
martyrs with clasped hands, and robes folded 
closely round their feet ; grotesque-looking gur- 
goyles, traceried windows, canopied niches — all 
were clearly pencilled out in the warm afternoon 
glow. But far away in the east, behind the 
pinnacles of the Chapter House, were heavy, blue- 
grey thunder- clouds, slowly piling up and betoken- 
ing a storm ere long — a storm which would send 
the gossiping swallows home, and awe the alms- 
house magpie into unwonted gravity. 

As yet, however, the sunshine had its own way. 
It lay in a soft, warm glow upon the green sward 
of the Close ; it came and went in golden flashes 
upon the stained Cathedral windows ; it crept in 
and out through the battlemented turrets of the 
Bishop's palace ; it peered mischievously into the 
grey aisles of the cloisters, and drifted to and fro 
upon the massive columns of the Deanery porch ; 
and over all there lay a strange hush, the hush of 
a waking dream, as though the tide of busy- working 
life, which surged so closely up to the very gates 
of the Close, had turned back there and left for 
ever in the place an old-world air of unbroken 
stillness and repose. 



158 st. olave's. 

a Well, them may gainsay it as will, but facks 
is facks, whether folks gives heed to 'em or not. 
I've lived i' this here nigh hand upon thirty 
year, comin' and goin', and I never heer'd tell o' 
nobody yet who could match wi' Mrs. Arch- 
deacon Scrymgeour. Lor' ! but she's a par'lous 
talker, she is. Why, she giv'd me t' length of a 
sermon this morning, 'cause I weren't i' my place 
at prayers last twice ; an' that didn't do for her, but 
she mun set t' Dean on, an' I had him at 
me thick end of an hour, tellin' of me I'd 
broke through t' Charter, an' goodness knows 
what. Bless us, if t' Charter ain't to be broke 
through nohow, it ought to ha' made an agree- 
ment wi' Providence as poor folks shouldn't never 
have no rheumatiz nor pains i' their inside, nor 
nought as quality has." And Martin Speller 
whiffed out a cloud of fragrant incense into the 
sunshiny air, following it with that other and 
not so silent operation, which is the invariable ac- 
companiment of tobacco-smoking. 

Martin Speller was a pensioner of the St. 
Olave's Almshouses. A shattered, tumble- down 
old man, built in the irregular Gothic style, no 
shape in particular, and the general effect nothing 



159 

to boast of. He was a rabid free-thinker in 
theology and politics, but discreet enough to 
smother his sentiments when any personal benefit 
could be gained by such a proceeding. Being 
disabled by the loss of his right arm — which had 
been snapped off in the Staffordshire Iron Works 
— from active work, he had got a living by run- 
ning messages and posting bills at public times, 
and, during the last election, served the winning 
side so well, that the honourable member used his 
influence to get Martin a settlement in the St. 
Olave's Almshouses. True, the old man's opinions 
were not quite up to the mark, but the wording of 
the Charter was not explicit on that head. It only 
stipulated that the alms-folk should attend prayers 
at the Minster twice a day, and receive the sacra- 
ment four times a-year, both which duties Martin 
duly performed, and the parish authorities could 
take cognizance of nothing farther. 

" Look ye," said Mrs. Marris, a stout, com- 
fortable widow of sixty, or somewhere near 
it, to whom Martin had confided his private 
sentiments touching the Archdeacon's widow, "it's 
here ; she does it genteel, cool and aisy like. Born 
folks hereabouts never shouts, they does their 



160 

scoldin' same pattern as they does everythin g else, 
quiet and spry, wi'out puttin' theirselves out o't 
way. Their tongues is allers droppin' n' droppin' 
n' dropping like a barrel as hasn't got tap clean 
turned, an ye never know when thy're goin' to 
be done." 

" Them's my opinions exact, Mrs. Marris. But 
I likes them as does their scoldin' quick sharp, and 
knows when to stop." 

"Well, it don't make much difference to me, 
Mr. Speller, as I looks at things, whether folks 
draws it out length of a pennorth o' tape, or lets it 
come tumblin and splashing so long as t'words gets 
said. But I'm free to confess she worries me, 
does t' Archdeacon's widdy. I oft think she 
were born wi' a scoldin' rattle betwixt her teeth, 
an' she's never dropped it yet." 

" Ay marry," said Martin, " an it's my opinion 
as she'll set on and scold t' nuss as comes to lay 
her out to bury. And law, won't she vex the 
blessed angels up yonder, when she gets near hand 
'em. She'll sure to tell em their harps is out o' 
tune, or their feathers isn't white enough, or 
summut." 

"Whisht, Mr. Speller. If she heered ye say 



st. olave's. 161 

that, she bring t' Dean about yer ears again 
and ye'd loss yer 'lowance i' no time. Folks had 
ought to be civil to them as hold the bread and 
cheese." 

" Deans aint no 'count wi' me," rejoined Martin, 
whose veneration was in inverse proportion to his 
self-esteem. " They can't do no more nor other 
folks has a mind to let 'em to. Mistress Amiel 
Grey, bless her, has say o' these here houses, an' 
she'll none turn a body out for speakin truth, let 
alone bein 'lected in wi' a parish meetin' an' gettin' 
votes and things as is reglar. 

"Bless ye, Mrs. Marris," continued the old 
man, puffing out a fresh cloud of tobacco smoke, 
" do you think I'm the sort as'll go down of my 
knees and do my reverence to a man cause he 
wears linen enough outside his coat to find a 
parish wi' shirts ? I nobbut humbles myself to 
them as has intellect'l ' bilities ;" and Martin 
dispread himself in his arm-chair with the air of 
a man who has uttered a sublime moral sentiment. 

" Hould yer whisht, Mr. Speller. Bible tells us 
we're to order werselves reverent to wer speritle 
pasture masters, an I allers goes in to do as t' 
Bible says." 

VOL. I. m 



162 st. olave's. 

' ' That there aint int' Bible," said Martin, con- 
descendingly, " it's nobbut catechise says that." 

" Well and aint that every bit as good ? I puts 
in for t' catechise same as I puts in for tf Bible, an 
takes em 5 both alike." 

" Folks'll print ought now- a- days. I uses my 
intellects, and don't believe nothin. They're a 
poor set as swallers just what folks has a mind to 
stuff 'em wi\ Natur's my book, Bible and cate- 
chise an' all." 

" Then, savin yer presence, Mr. Speller, ye're a 
bigger simpleton nor ever I thought ye was. An' 
if yer intellects as ye call 'em, has landed ye in 
such a mud heap as that, ye ought to think shame 
to say it, and you goin' to prayers night an' morn- 
in' and doin' yer obedience to t' f I believe,' an 
scrapin' to Mrs. Scrymgeour for odd sixpences." 

" Bad luck to Mrs. Scrymgeour, an all t' rest of 
'em ; they're a set o' whited sepulchres," and Mr. 
Speller flung a fresh libation from his lips to the 
green grass. 

" There ye go again," said Mrs. Marris, who, 
although she liked to have an occasional fling at 
individual character, cherished, nevertheless, a pro- 
found reverence for the whole body corporate of 



ST. OLAVE S. 163 

ecclesiastical dignitaries, and would have plucked 
out her right eye rather than omitted to curtsey 
until the top tuck of her lilac gown touched the 
ground, when the Dean or Canon resident passed 
within a hundred yards of her. " There ye go 
again; if I was you Fd tie my tongue up wi' a bit 
o' blue worsted afore Fd let it talk such heathenish 
stuff." 

"Begging yer pardon, Mrs. Marris, didn't ye 
say yerself she was a scoldin' rattle/'' 

" Happen I did," replied the repentant reviler 
of Archdeacons' widows, " but it were you set me 
on. When one fool says snip, there's allers 
another to say snap. But I aint a goin' to speak 
evil of dignities no more, neither for you nor for 
nobody else. An she's kin to t' ould Bishop, let 
alone havin' a nevy in t' church, and I aint tongued 
my catechise this fifty year, besides prayers twice 
a day, an' my Colic reglar of a mornin' for 
nothin'." 

To what dire extent this ecclesiastical contro- 
versy might have raged, is uncertain. It was 
put a stop to by a stranger, who came slowly up 
the lane leading to the almshouses, balancing a 
huge clothes-basket on her head. 

m 2 



164 st. olave's. 

She was a tall, well-built, noble-looking woman, 
with a tawny complexion and grand, strongly- 
marked features, — too strongly marked perhaps, 
but for a strange, inner spiritual light which shone 
through and softened their outline. In her whole 
attitude and bearing there was that unmistakable 
dignity which real religion, taking up its abode 
within however humble a shrine, does always give. 
Mrs. Cromarty was a Primitive Methodist, and 
worshipped in the little meeting-house in Nor- 
lands Lane, just on the outskirts of St. Olave's. 

As her tall figure darkened the doorway of Mrs. 
Marris's cottage, Mr. Speller took his arm- 
chair and went farther up the lane, under the 
shadow of one of the elm trees, muttering to him- 
self as he limped along — 

" Women folks haven't got no intellects. Can't 
find out what God Almighty makes such a 
sight of em for. They're allers comin, n' comin, n' 
comin, an t' world'll be clean smothered wi' 'em 
afore long." 

" Come your ways in and rest a bit, Mrs. Cro- 
marty," said Mrs. Marris, cheerily, when Martin 
was fairly out of the way. " I'll warrant yer back 
aches some. It's a weary way fra' Norlands, and 



165 

the sun blazin fit to frizzle a body, let alone 
midges as seems to think ye was made for nowt' 
but to eat." 

"I ain't tired, they're nobbut starch things/' 
and Mrs. Cromarty whisked the basket down to 
the ground as lightly as if it had been a bird cage. 
" But I'll come in an sit a bit, all the same obliged 
to you." 

" Happen ye'd like to take a look at 'em/' she 
continued, seeing that Mrs. Marris was peering 
curiously, and with professional.] interest, at a 
tempting little bit of colour which peeped out 
from under the white cloth; "I've gotten a new 
sort o' starch as makes things look better n' new." 

And Mrs. Cromarty withdrew the covering 
from her basket with as much pride as if she had 
been unveiling a masterpiece of modern painting. 
Justifiable pride too. Why should not the artiste 
in starch and powder-blue claim that merit for 
her handiwork, which, without question we yield 
to him who dabbles in oils and pigments of divers 
hue. And never did the far-famed " hanging 
committee" of the Royal Academy gaze upon 
their squares of painted canvas with more critical 
acumen than that which filled Mrs. Marris's 



166 st. olave's. 

shrewdy common-sense face as she bent over Mrs. 
Cromarty's clothes-basket and scanned its snowy 
treasures. Mrs. Marris was a washerwoman too, 
though she exercised her calling chiefly in the 
ecclesiastical line, being employed by the proper 
authorities to get up the choristers' surplices 
and other Cathedral vestments. 

" Talk o' things new out o' the shop, why what 
these here beats 'em to nothin' ; ironed wi'out a 
crease, and not a speck or a smut, and law, Mrs. 
Cromarty, what a beautiful stiffness!" 

" Yes, Mrs. Marris, they aint to be ashamed of, 
nohow. Says I to myself when I'd done 'em, 
Mrs. Cromarty, says I, them there's well done. 
But I allers puts my best foot foremost for Miss 
Alice, she's so tender and bonnie, and seems 
sort o' kin to ought that's pure like these here." 

They were two dresses of light, zephyry, trans- 
parent muslin. One was pure white, sprinkled 
over with tiny leaves, softly tinted as the green 
heart of a snow- drop. The other was a warm 
bloomy peach colour, perhaps in these days it 
would be called mauve, but that word had not 
been invented at the time of which I write. It 
was trimmed with a profusion of little frills, 



167 

ruffled and crimped like the inside petals of a 
purple iris, and the sunlight shining through it 
seemed to stain all the room with a soft warm 
mist. 

" Pretty things allers does me good to look at 
'em/' said Mrs. Marris ; " I don't know if folks 
as wears 'em thinks same as them as washes ; em ; 
but 'pears like to me if I could get a gown like 
them there, clean on once a week, I should come 
a long sight nearer being a Christian nor what 
I is/' 

" Mrs. Marris, get the spotless robe o' Christ's 
righteousness, an then it won't be no 'count how 
tiften ye get a clean gown to yer back. Them as 
He clothes is well covered. Not but what I likes 
to have things viewly, mind ye, but them as can't 
be Christians in linsey-wolsey, wouldn't do no 
better if they tried it on wi' silks an' satins." 

"Well, well, Mrs. Cromarty, mebby ye're 
right ; but I allers thinks prayers sounds better 
when I goes to hear 'em in a clean cap an' 
my best black silk bonnet. I lay them's for Miss 
Alice." 

" Yes. I mostly does four or five of 'em every 
week for her." 



168 

" She'd ought to wed a soap-boiler then. VThy 
she'd cost anybody a fortin wi' jest nowt but 
washin'." 

" Oh ! for that matter, Mrs. Marris, it isn't 
that she sullies 'em any to speak on ; but ye see 
Miss Alice, bless her, is that dainty and sweet-like, 
that if ought about her's got so much as a spreckle 
or a streak upon it, it ain't good enough for her. 
She can't abear nowt as isn't just as bonnie and 
pure as herself." 

" Folks as has white hearts wants white clothes 
to match 'em, that's it, an' I say nought agin it. 
But I can't help it comin' into my head, odd 
times about, why you and me wasn't let to wear 
such as these here," and Mrs. Marris glanced 
from the woven air and moonshine draperies to 
her own lilac-print gown, which having been in 
wear a week, was variegated with sublunary spots 
not a few. 

" Never heed them sort o' questions Mrs. 
Marris, never heed 'em. God Almighty made 
some folks to wear pretty things, and other folks 
to wash 'em, and it ain't our track to be a turnin 
of His reg'lations down-side up. I'm thankful 
JHe^s made me so as I like pretty things when I see 



st. olave's. 169 

; em. It's nigh hand as good as a sermon when 
Miss Alice comes trippin' up the garden at Nor- 
lands, wi' her sweet-bit face, all 'broidered over 
wi' smiles, an' bonnie sparkles o' light glinting 
through her blue eyes, like stars shimmerin' i' the 



" That face of her's, though," continued Mrs. 
Cromarty, " gives me a sort o' achin' feel whiles. 
It kind o' minds me of a leddy as I lived maid wi' 
a sight o' years ago, an' she came to no good 
'cause of her bein' so beautiful." 

" Ay, that's it ; beauty n' misery, beauty n' 
misery, that's way things goes i' this here world. 
It clean passes my wits why God makes women 
so fair-like, an' then lets 'em get trailed i' the 
mire, so as decent folks can't touch 'em. But 
tell us about it, Mrs. Cromarty. I ain't had 
nothin' to listen to, let alone prayers n' sermons, 
this good bit past, an' though I don't go to say 
nowt agen 'em, they sort o' lie heavy on my 
stomach, now and then, like Christmas beef when 
you've been eatin' over much. I mean no dis- 
respect to the prayers, 'cause I were allers brought 
up to tongue 'em proper, and do my reverences 
when t' times corned. But summut tasty makes 



170 st. olave's. 

a change." And Mrs. Marris settled herself in 
her arm-chair, and opened month and ears for a 
spiced morsel. 

Mrs. Cromarty stood by the casement-window, 
leaning her tawny face upon her hands, gazing 
half dreamily, half sadly, at the leaf shadows which 
were flickering to and fro upon the grass. 

" It were a young leddy," she said, ' ' far away, 
to the south. I forget t' name o' t' place, but they 
don't have no winter there to speak on. Vilets 
comes peepin' out at Christmas time, an' folks sits 
wi* their windy open i' March, same as we do now." 

" Bless me/' said Mrs. Marris, whose turn of 
mind was practical, " but what a sight o' money 
folks might save there in coal 'n chips." 

" It were a long time back/' continued Mrs. 
Cromarty, not heeding her companion's matter-of- 
fact observation, " but I can tell of it just same 
as if it was last week. She were rare and beauti- 
ful, that sort as 'ud make a man's heart run down 
into his shoes to look at her. She'd long shinin' 
curls hanging down her back, an' the colour 
came an' went in her cheeks like red i' the sky 
when the sun's rising, and the beautifulest 
eyes " 



st. olave's. 171 

" Lor, Mrs. Cromarty, she must ha' been pic- 
ture o' Miss Alice, she's just that way." 

' ' No, she warn't neither. Miss Alice is soft and 
winsome-like — that kind as makes you pet and 
cuddle 'em up, but my leddy had nought o' that 
sort about her. Not as she wasn't kind, I never 
had nought to say agen her for pretty behaviour, 
but she'd a look as could ha' turned ye to stone 
if ye vexed her." 

' ' Ay, that's way wi' some folks. Now there's 
Mrs. Scrymgeour," and Mrs. Marris made 
a wry face as if at some invisible elf or 
goblin. 

" Whisht ! don't let us hear nought o' Mrs. 
Scrymgeour ; her name allers minds me o' salts, as 
you must ha' summut to take taste out after it. 
There was a vast o' gentlemen used to come about 
after my young leddy, but she couldn't fancy none of 
'em. Her pa and ma was beat to find out t' rea- 
son, poor things, for she was all the child they 
had, and they would fain ha' seed her comfortably 
wed afore they was took. But it cleared itself 
by-'n-by, it did." 

" I lay she was a pinin' after somebody else. 
Dandelions and roses is all the same to them as 



172 st. olave's. 

hasn't eyes to look/' remarked Mrs. Marris, who 
had had an " experience " in her own youth. 

' ' You're near right. About half a year afore 
I left, there were a young man started comin' as 
no one knew what he was or where he corned 
from. He were fair to look upon, gainliest young 
man's ever I seed, summut that sort as King Saul 
might ha' been. But his heart was as dark as 
coal, and as dirty as pitch. I seed that from the 
first. Mrs. Marris, there's some men's faces — ay, 
and women's too, more shame to 'em, as the devil 
makes sign-boards of 'em to show who lives inside. 
He paints them up beautiful wi' pretty shapes and 
colours, but his name's printed in all the while for 
them as has eyes to see it." 

" Mrs. Cromarty, that's a queer way o' puttin' 
things. An' he stole away her heart and then 
left her, did he ? They're a graceless set, is t' men." 

" Better if he had, Mrs. Marris, better if he 
had. A lost heart doesn't smart like one that's 
broke. I knew she were set upon him from t' 
first, she allers fluttered so when he came 
nigh hand her, and her eyes had a beautiful melt 
inside of 'em if she looked him in the face. Well, 
as I were tellin' ye " 



st. olave's. 173 

" Bless us, Mrs. Cromarty, yon's bell putting in 
for prayers. I mun go and get my bonnet on, an* 
ye'H ha' to tell me t' rest when I've got 5 em sided 
out and back again. I think we're never clean shut 
o' prayers i' this here place ; you're well off Mrs. 
Cromarty, as doesn't need to go to 'em all. First 
lot of a mornin' hasn't got fairly settled afore t' 
bell puts in for t' afternoon set, an' ye're forced 
to get agate again. I oft wishes we could say 'em 
wi' a machine same as folks does such a sight o' 
things nowadays, it 'ud put off a vast o' trouble," 
and Mrs. Marris trotted upstairs in search of her 
bonnet, with a disappointed look upon her face, 
leaving Mrs. Cromarty and her basket of clothes 
at the kitchen door. Just as the old lady got out 
of sight, Martin Speller passed the door on his 
way to prayers, and paused for a friendly crack 
with Mrs. Cromarty. He appeared to have over- 
heard Mrs. Marris' s closing remark, for he started 
on the same track as soon as he had got over his 
opening salutation. 

"It's here, Mrs. Cromarty," he said, with a 
contemptuous sort of glance towards the old grey 
towers of the Cathedral, " I don't make much count 
o' prayers myself nohow. I sits up i' my place 



174 st. olave's. 

an' hears t' parson go through 'em twice a day 
regular, 'cause ye see it's in the agreement, and 
we'd lose our 'lowance if we didn't go. An' as for 
the sermon twice a week, I mostly shuts up when 
that gets agate. I nobbut bargained to go to t' 
prayers reg'lar, wi' no word of a sermon on the 
back on 'em. Religion ain't no yield's ever I see, 
I don't believe nothin' as I can't understand." 

" Don't ye," said Mrs. Cromarty, drily; "well, 
I heered a bit since as how ye didn't believe 
nought at all, and mebby as ye say that's t > 
reason. Some folks' intellects can't take in 
much." 

This unexpected turn rather baffled Martin, so he 
gave the conversation a twist in another direction. 

"Yon's Mrs. Archdeacon a comin' up th' 
Close, wi' his reverence the Bishop along-side of 
her ; my word on it but she's awful stiff upright 
the day, s'pose it's 'cause she's gotten him to set 
her to the prayers. Some women's as proud as 
peacocks if they can get a pair o' coat tails to walk 
with 'em," and Martin, who had great notions of 
the superiority of his own sex, took his pipe out 
of his mouth in readiness to make a bow as the 
quality passed. 



st. olave's. 175 

Mrs. Scrymgeour and the Bishop came slowly 
along, her ample draperies puffing out behind like 
the sails of a merchant vessel under a stiff breeze. 
As they neared the cottage door, Mr. Speller did 
his " obedience " by doffing his hat and perform- 
ing a rheumatic bow, but Mrs. Cromarty, who 
had a share of the genuine north country inde- 
pendence about her, stood upright as a queen, 
gazing calmly at the aristocrats out of her great, 
deep, dark eyes. 

" It's a queer world it is," said Martin, when 
he had put his hat on again, and resumed the per- 
pendicular position, " it's a queer world. I oft 
wonder if we'll all ha' to set on the same bench 
up yonder in heaven, s'posin' there is such'n a 
place, and s'posin' any on us gets landed at it, 
which one thing's as onsartain as t'other, as I looks 
at 'em. But, lor, it 'ud feel mighty strange if 
the kingdom o' glory's a real place, to be settin' 
nigh hand the Archdeacon's widdy, an' hev her 
morry-antic dress — that's what women folks calls 
it — a rubbin' agen one's worsted stockin's," and 
Martin's face grew slightly perplexed as he en- 
deavoured to realize this possibility of millennial 
bliss. 



176 st. olave's. 

"Hould yer whisht, Mr. Speller/' said Mrs. 
Marris, who had just landed down stairs with her 
bonnet on and a black leathered-covered prayer- 
book under her shawl, ' ( ye were allers as blind as 
an owl about doctrines. Haven't ye heard 'em 
readin' at prayers about degrees o' glory and 
different sort o' stars. Such an unseemly thing 
as it 'ud be for the likes of us to be sittin' nigh 
hand the quality. I look out for it as there'll be 
a place for us somewhere comfortable in the back 
seats, an' th' Archdeacon's widdy an' them sort '11 
have front stalls an prayer-books wi' lots o' 

giit.» 

" Nobbut," resumed the old lady after a pause, 
during which she had locked the door and put the 
key safely in her pocket, "nobbut I hope we'll 
only ha' prayers once a day up in heaven, an' 
them in the afternoon when t' Litany don't want 
to be said. They're good enough is the prayers, 
but one gets tired bein' allers tewing at 'em." 



CHAPTER XII. 

frasBHHan 

ISS BRUCE, I presume." 

Janet bowed assent, being too 
much taken by surprise to attempt 
any other mode of address. What mistress of a 
household, called upon to receive a stranger just 
three hours before the appointed time, and whilst 
clean towels and pending culinary arrangements are 
yet uppermost in the strata of thought, will 
not sympathize with her feelings. The lady 
was announced to arrive at half-past eight, and 
the little clock on the mantel-piece at Westwood 
had not yet chimed the hour of six when a 
carriage drove up to the front door, and Tibbie's 
services were put in requisition to marshal boxes 
and count packages. 

"I am Mrs. Edenall; I fear I have incon- 

VOL. I. N 



178 st. olave's. 

venienced you by coming so much in advance of 
the appointed time, but I found there was no need 
to wait at Manchester as my solicitor informed 
me, and I preferred travelling in the daytime." 

These words were spoken with that indescrib- 
ably rich and aristocratic ring, which, apart from 
all other test of dress or appearance, at once 
stamps the speaker as belonging to the upper 
classes ; also with that high-bred indifference and 
hauteur which said plainly enough, " and if I 
have inconvenienced you, it is not of the slightest 
consequence.*' 

She was a tall, elegant woman, dressed in deep 
mourning of very rich material. Her veil was 
drawn down and tied closely under her chin, so 
that Janet could only judge of the new comer by 
her voice and gesture, both of which were exceed- 
ing proud. 

" You have not inconvenienced me at all." she 
said at last, in reply to Mrs. EdenalPs explana- 
tion. " You will find everything quite ready for 
you, and I am glad you have got through with 
your journey so much sooner than you thought 
for." 

It would be impossible to describe the effect 



st. olave's. 179 

which these words, spoken in Janet's quiet, placid 
voice, produced upon Mrs. Edenall. Her eyes 
flashed eagerly through her thick veil ; she turned 
abruptly round, and her hands trembled so that 
the purse she held fell to the ground, scattering 
its contents upon the hall floor. It was as if she 
had been suddenly shaken by some bitter, stinging 
recollection. But she soon recovered her self- 
possession. The momentary surprise passed, she 
picked up the purse and money before Janet could 
come forward to her help ; and then, having seen 
all her luggage placed in the hall, she requested 
to be shown to her own room. 

' ' Would you not like to come into the parlour 
and rest ?" said Janet. 

" Thank you," she replied, " you are kind, but 
I prefer resting in my own room." 

Janet led the way. The room, which had been 
set apart for Mrs. Edenall's use, was indeed a 
very pretty little spot, one in which a lover of sun- 
shine and fresh air might spend many pleasant 
hours. It was at the corner of the house, and had 
two windows looking east and south. One com- 
manded a fine prospect across the rich level pasture 
lands of Broadshire away to the Wold hills stretching 



180 st. olave's. 

in a faint undulating purple line round the horizon. 
The other looked towards St. Olave's with its up- 
reaching spires, antique-gabled houses and grey 
postern. It had besides,, a full view of the 
north side of the Cathedral and a glimpse of the 
Deanery and Residence. 

As for the fitting up of the room, Janet had 
made it as pretty as small means could afford. 
The furniture was of maple, simple, but tasteful 
and exquisitely clean. The walls were painted 
a soft French grey ; the hangings of the bed and 
windows were of white muslin, and the carpet — a 
deep rich crimson — gave warmth and colour to the 
whole room. Janet had hung one or two engrav- 
ings on the walls ; she also arranged a few flowers 
in a little Parian vase upon the chimney-piece ; 
and as she had a notion that English people spent 
a great deal of time in their bed-rooms, she had 
brought a small round table out of her own room 
and set it before the window with a supply of 
books and writing materials. There was an air of 
indescribable neatness and refinement over every- 
thing, and that hushed feeling, which followed 
wherever Janet Bruce came. 

She naturally paused for a moment to note the 



ST. olave's. 181 

impression which the room appeared to make. 
Mrs. Edenall, however, took not the slightest 
notice of anything. Completely ignoring Janet's 
presence, and withont a word of complaint or 
satisfaction, she began to take off her bonnet and 
cloak. 

'• Can I assist you at all ? Shall I send the 
servant up to unpack your portmanteau ?" 

" Thank you, no. I prefer to be alone." 

Janet took the hint and withdrew, closing the 
door softly after her with a feeling of disappoint- 
ment. She had expected a little approbation at 
the very least, after all the pains of preparation, 
and Mrs. Edenall' s cold manner completely chilled 
her. 

" What a stiff, proud woman," she said to her- 
self, as she went down- stairs to help Tibbie with 
tea. "I was in hopes she might be a sort of 
companion for us ; but that can never be." 

" Have the scones baked nicely, Tibbie ? Mrs. 
Edenall has had a long travel, and she'll be sair 
weary the night." 

" They're just fine, Miss Janet. Sax of 'em an' 
mair for the morrow. And wad the leddie be for 
a bit bannock forbye ?" 



182 st. olave's. 

" Oh, Tibbie,, English folks will no thank you 
for bannock, we must have buttered toast and some 
marmalade." 

"The English folk are a' daft then/' said 
Tibbie, who had a wholesale contempt for every- 
thing that was not Scotch. " But I'll do e'en as ye 
tell me, and gie the leddie her ain likins." 

David Bruce had not got home from the 
Minster yet. He was training the choristers in a 
new anthem, and generally kept them an hour after 
service. Janet had just got tea arranged, and 
the fireside cleaned up — the evening, though in 
July, had fallen damp and cold — when Mrs. 
Edenall came sweeping into the room. 

" You have a fire, ah, that is pleasant ; people 
in this part of the country are generally so un- 
willing to give themselves the trouble of lighting 
a fire/' and she threw herself carelessly down in 
the great arm-chair which stood on the hearth-rug. 

As Janet sat at the table ' ' sorting " the tea, 
she had an opportunity of scanning her new guest 
more carefully. Mrs. Edenall might be five and 
thirty, perhaps more — certainly not less. Had 
she been a trifle stouter, people would have called 
her " majestic," but being slender as well as tall, 



st. olave's. 183 

perhaps stately was the word which best described 
her. She was lithe and graceful in figure,, digni- 
fied almost to stiffness in her manner; and her 
voice, when she did speak, which was seldom 
enough, had a cold, haughty accent — musical 
very, but full of pride. Her face was pale and 
worn as if with much suffering — but mental, not 
physical suffering. Her short, curling upper lip, 
the uneven eyebrows, the quivering, dilating 
nostril, told of a dauntless spirit that would 
both dare and do when the need came. Her hair 
was of a dull grey-brown, very thick and waving. 
It was put plainly back from her face, and knotted 
low down upon the neck, showing the exquisite 
shape of the head and the fine aristocratic curves 
of the slender throat. 

She was dressed in deep mourning. There was 
nothing white about her but the cambric handker- 
chief with which she shaded her face from the fire. 
She held it in her left hand. Janet noticed a 
wedding-ring on her finger, and above that a 
diamond hoop which flashed and glittered in the 
firelight. Everything about her betokened high, 
almost noble breeding — and pride, intense, uncon- 
querable pride. 



184 st. olave's. 

" My brother will be home from the Cathedral 
soon ; but we will not wait for him/' said Janet. 
" I am sure you will need a cup of tea to refresh 
you after your long journey." 

Again that quick, eager, burning look, as Janet's 
Scottish birth betrayed itself in the ringing " r's " 
and the peculiar musical rhythm of her words. It 
was a look of keen intense interest, bursting for 
one moment over the proud face, and then leaving 
it pale and passionless as before. 

"Do not let me disturb any of your customary 
arrangements," she said, stiffly. " I am not at 
all faint, and I would much prefer that you should 
wait until Mr. Bruce comes in." 

So Janet sent Tibbie back with the hot scones, 
and put the cosie over the tea-pot. Then they sat 
in perfect silence for about a quarter of an hour 
longer, Mrs. Edenall still leaning carelessly back 
in the arm-chair, and musing on the carved oak 
frame above the mantel-piece. As the clock 
struck half-past seven, David Bruce came into the 
room with his music-books under his arm. There 
was a flush of pleasure on his face ; he had met 
Alice on the road, and walked nearly the length 
of Westwood lane with her. 



st. olave's. 185 

"My brother, Mrs. Edenall." 

Mrs. Edenall rose, drew herself up to her full 
height and bowed with grave, stately courtesy. 
Then she offered her hand to Mr. Bruce. It was 
a very soft white hand, almost the softest and 
whitest, except Alice Grey's, that had ever lain 
within his. Indeed there was something in its 
light clinging grasp which reminded him of 
Alice's. 

They sat down to tea. A very quiet opportu- 
nity it proved. David addressed himself once or 
twice to Mrs. Edenall, and she replied in a care- 
less indifferent tone, not scornful — there was 
nothing in Mrs. EdenalTs bearing to which that 
disagreeable word could be applied — but with a 
sort of half-unconscious weariness which implied 
that she would rather be let alone. So David at 
last, let her alone. It w r as seldom indeed, that he 
talked more than was absolutely needful. 

After tea, she went back again to her old seat 
by the fire, while Janet helped David to arrange 
his music, talking the while, of their visit to the 
Old Lodge. Their tones were low and quiet and 
restful. Mrs. Edenall closed her eyes and there 
came over her face a dreamy look as of one who is 



186 st. olave's. 

listening to old but well-remembered music. 
Janet, turning suddenly round once, was startled 
by the strange beauty of its expression, and, 
glancing towards her brother, saw that his gaze 
was fixed in the same direction. 

One of the old Italian galleries contains a paint- 
ing of Hero looking out from her watch-tower on 
the dark, quivering waves of the Hellespont, wait- 
ing for Leander. Hope and memory give their 
light and shadow to her pale face. The remem- 
brance of passion past, the hope of joy to come, 
meet and blend upon it. It was such a look that 
stole over Mrs. EdenalFs face, as she listened to 
the low, measured tones of this brother and sister. 
They had brought back some far-away memory, 
and wakened some sleeping hope. 

David saw that their guest was not likely to be 
much of an acquisition in the way of companion* 
ship for that evening, at any rate, so he fetched the 
manuscript of hisoratorio and began'to work at it. 

" Shall I disturb you if I try over this move- 
ment ? there is only a page or two of it," he said, 
after a pause of nearly an hour, in which nothing 
had been heard but the click of Janet's needles 
and the regular beat of the timepiece pendulum. 



st. olave's. 187 

" Not in the least/' Mrs. Edenall replied. " I 
am never disturbed by anything." 

" She is not nervous, at any rate," thought 
Janet. 

" And I hope you will not allow me to feel that 
I am in the slightest degree interfering with your 
usual plans." And, having said this, she turned 
her head away from them both as if glad to have 
the opportunity of escaping from the need of 
further conversation. 

David began. It was part of the overture to 
Jael. He soon forgot that any one else was in the 
room, and appeared to be talking to himself in the 
music. His face grew bright — it always did 
whilst he was playing — as if from some light that 
was slowly kindling within. After a while he 
paused to note down a new phrase that had struck 
him. 

" You play very beautifully," said Mrs. Edenall, 
without turning her head. " It is a great rest to 
listen to you." 

David was accustomed to have his musical per- 
formances patronizingly approved by fashion- 
able amateurs, both ladies and gentlemen, who 
called his style " charming," " sweetly pretty," 



188 

" soul-subduing/' " so impressive/' and then 
praised his wonderful facility of touch in very 
much the same words which the antics of a danc- 
ing bear would have called forth. But there was 
something different in Mrs. EdenalTs manner. It 
was the appreciation of one who could feel and 
think with himself, and not the idle criticism of 
an amateur. 

"You love music, then V he said. 

"Yes. I used to enjoy it very much once; 
but that is many years ago." 

"Many years ago." How strange it is that 
people in middle life can never say those three 
words without a certain sadness in their tones. 
Mrs. Edenall could not. 

" I have not played now/' she continued, " for 
some time ; never indeed, since " 

She paused- for a moment. 

" Since I lost my husband." 

This was the first time she had in any way 
alluded to her own affairs, and even now she seemed 
to think the mention of them had been needless, 
for she drew herself up very proudly, and then 
begged Mr. Bruce to go on with his music. She 
evidently did not wish this chance remark to pro- 



st. olave's. 189 

duce either sympathy or questioning. And it did 
not. 

At half-past nine Tibbie brought in the Bibles 
for worship. Mrs. Edenall looked bewildered for 
a moment, and then guessing at what was to fol- 
low, she *rose hastily. 

" Excuse me, I am tired. Be so kind as to let 
me have a light. I would like to leave you now." 

Tibbie brought the little lamp. Mrs. Edenall 
bowed somewhat haughtily and was turning to 
leave the room, when, as though suddenly remem- 
bering something, she turned back and shook 
hands with both of them. This was done in a 
grave, silent sort of way ; not with any pleasant 
farewell smile, but with the half-humble, half- 
defiant air of a very high-spirited child who has 
done something wrong, and is too proud to ac- 
knowledge it. Then she went away. 

" Oh ! Davie," said Janet, when worship was 
over, ' ' what will we do with her, she is so proud." 

" I don't think it is pride, Jeanie. She seems 
very shy, and when she is more at home with us it 
will wear off." 

" I am afraid not, Davie. I can't tell how it is, 
but she seems to magnetize me. The touch of her 



190 

hand just now had a strange uncanny feel. I 
would like to have dropped it again directly. I 
wish she had never come." 

" Nonsense, Jeanie, you are getting supersti- 
tious. We shall manage well enough together 
by-and-by. She is a thorough lady, you can tell 
that by the tones of her voice and every move- 
ment." 

" She is a widow it seems ; you remember she 
spoke of having lost her husband." 

" Yes, Jeanie, and what a sad weary look came 
over her face when she had said the words. She 
has had some great trouble, Jeanie, and we must 
be very gentle with her. She has come here for 
rest and quiet. I think all that she wants of us 
is just to be let alone." 

"Well, brother, she shall not need to complain of 
any interference of mine. For my part I shall be 
quite willing, as Tibbie says, to let her l gang her 
ain gate/ " And with these words the brother and 
sister parted for the night. 

Janet had great faith in Tibbie's perception of 
character, and so before she went upstairs she 
stepped into the kitchen to have a consultation with 
the knowing Scotchwoman. 



191 

" Well, Tibbie, and what do you think of the 
new lodger ?" 

" A gey braw leddy, Miss Janet/' said Tibbie, 
taking off her blue check apron, and folding it 
carefully up. " A gey braw leddy, but ower 
muckle o' the pride." 

And in her heart Janet thought that Tibbie was 
quite right. 

It was scarcely dark — -just a grey dim twilight — 
when Mrs. Edenall went into her own room. 
The first employment to which people betake 
themselves when they have completed a long- 
journey is generally that of writing home. But 
although pen, ink, and paper had been placed 
ready for her on the little table by the window, 
Mrs. Edenall did not use them. Perhaps there 
were no friends in the place she had left, who 
would care to hear of her safe arrival at St. 
Olave's. Perhaps in all the world there was no 
fireside by which that night loving voices spake of 
her; no home where the thought of her, the 
absent one, nestled into any faithful heart, or 
breathed itself forth in a prayer for her welfare. 

One might have thought that she was accus- 
tomed to a very warm climate, for she shivered 



192 

once or twice when she went into the room, and 
then wrapped her crimson cashmere dressing- 
gown ronnd her as if it had been mid- winter. The 
first thing she did was to examine the lock of the 
door, trying it once or twice to see if it was qnite 
secnre. Then she looked into the closet ; it con- 
tained nothing but pegs for dresses, and one or 
two drawers, which were empty. After this, she 
sat down on a low seat by the dressing-table and 
began to unbind her hair, letting it fall in heavy 
grey brown masses on her shoulders. It was only 
part, just the outside, which time or sorrow, or 
both, had bleached. Underneath, and at the ends 
of the long, waving tresses, it was of a rich golden 
brown, that glorious tint which poets love to sing 
and artists to paint. Years ago, when her hair 
was all like that, Mrs. Edenall must have been a 
magnificent woman. 

She took up one of the shining locks and 
smoothed it over her finger, looking at it long 
and earnestly. Then she buried her face in her 
hands, and soon the quick tears came dropping 
one after another upon her lap ; sometimes with 
great, bitter sobs that shook her whole frame, 
sometimes with low, mournful sighs, tender and 



193 



regretful, full of passionate longing and weariness' 
And she was still sitting there rocking to and fro 
in her grief, long after the Cathedral bells had 
struck eleven, and the quiet little Westwood 
household had packed up for the night. 



VOL. 1. 



194 



CHAPTER XIII. 



mm 



iwnwnwi 



HE hours wore away. Daylight crept 
slowly on, disturbing the lazy grey 
shadows that lay sleeping in the city. 
One by one the battlements of the Broad Tower 
gleamed out into the sunshine, then glints of 
light stole down to the pinnacles of the east front 
and flickered from the topmost compartments of 
the great window, deepening and brightening until 
the whole looked like one mass of many- coloured 
gems, set in a framework of foliated tracery and 
cunning broidery work of stone. 

All sound of human life and motion was hushed 
unawakened yet from the deep sleep which the 
midnight chime of the bell had left unbroken. 
But Nature was up and busy at her handiwork. 



195 

She roused the nodding flowers from their night's 
rest by slant rays of sunshine peeping in under 
their dewy petals. She stirred with fresh, playful 
breezes the motionless leaves of the Close elm- 
trees, and bid them begin their pleasant whisper- 
ing talk again. She reminded the drowsy birds 
in the vine and jasmine branches that whatever 
time the Minster service began, their morning 
hymn was already due, and forthwith the little 
minstrels tuned up and gave it, rather feebly and 
huskily at first, but breaking out by-and-by into a 
loud jubilant chorus, which rang through the 
latticed window at the east end of the Lodge, and 
roused Alice Grey from her sleep. 

She woke with a pleasant sense of coming joy. 
How or when it was to come she could not tell, 
until she shook herself out of the dreamland in 
which she had been wandering, and remembered 
this was the morning for her to meet David 
Bruce at the Minster, and look over that old 
music of his. 

She liked to be with him now. She had 
unconsciously crept up to him, and wound herself 
round about his strong, true nature, as the little 
wild convolvolus will clasp the gnarled, knotted 

o2 



196 st. olave's. 

trunk of some old forest tree. Something to lean 
upon and rest against, was what she wanted when 
she first met David Bruce, and that support — 
steady, firm, strong — he had become to her. 
What she was to him, Alice did not know. 

She was to be at the Minster at half-past nine. 
The time wore heavily on, until the bells began to 
chime. Then she tied on her straw hat, and 
wrapping a black lace scarf over her dress, she 
ran across the Close, and entered the great west- 
door which was standing open, as it always did in 
summer-time. There was nobody in the place 
that she could see, but an old verger, who was 
whistling a psalm-tune to himself as he rubbed 
down a fine monumental brass which had re- 
cently been erected to the memory of a Cathedral 
dignitary. 

"When she crossed the transept into the south 
aisle, she found David Bruce waiting for her at 
the door of the narrow stair which opened into 
his little sanctum. He led the way, and she fol- 
lowed. The organ of St. Olave's Cathedral was 
built over the entrance to the choir, nearly under 
the great centre tower. From the little gallery at 
each side of it, there was a splendid view of the 



197 

whole building ; eastward, over the choir, with its 
long ranges of richly- canopied stalls, its crimson 
cushions and draperies, its pure white marble 
altar-screen, stained now with the many-coloured 
light that poured through the great east window 
— westward, down a dim perspective of clustered 
columns to the massive carved oak doors, which 
led out into the Close. The organist's place was 
covered with a canopy of oak, wrought like the 
stalls in elaborate tabernacle work. It was 
enclosed within crimson curtains, and furnished 
with seats for the use of the amateur musicians 
and dilletanti, who in the late organist's time, 
often came to listen and look on during the per- 
formance of the service. 

On one side there were shelves piled up with 
volumes of music, old and worn and moth-eaten. 
There were manuscript fugues too by English and 
German composers, original scores of anthems, 
almost dropping to pieces, but worth their weight 
in gold, and carefully treasured in chests of which 
David Bruce kept the key. These last were what 
Alice had come to see. She pored over them 
with eager interest and such reverence as only 
those can feel who have been bred under the 



198 st. olave's. 

shadow of a Cathedral, and listened from their 
babyhood to the grand stately march of the old 
church music. 

While she was looking at them, David chose 
out the anthem for the morning service and wrote 
the names of the different chants which were to 
be given to the choristers. 

" Ah," said Alice, as she lighted upon a yellow 
moth-eaten piece of antiquity, " here is that beau- 
tiful canon of Bird's, ' Non nobis Domine/ will 
you play it for me, Mr. Bruce ?" 

et I would do so gladly, but we poor organists 
are dependent upon the bellows-blower, and he 
has not made his appearance yet." 

" I forgot that ; cannot I blow them for you ? Is 
it very hard work ?" 

" Too hard for you to manage, I am afraid," 
and David smiled at the notion of those slender 
arms working up and down at the bellows. 

Alice looked disappointed. 

' ' But I can play it for you if you like during 
the service, instead of the voluntary I had chosen ; 
give me it and I will put it aside with the rest of 
my music for this morning." 

Soon the second bell began to chime, and the 



st. olave's. 199 

old almshouse people came to their places in the 
choir. Martin Speller first with his leather- 
covered prayer-book tucked under his arm, next 
to him Mrs. M arris with the blind woman Ruth 
Cane leaning on her shoulder, then Betsy Dowlie 
and Anne Kirk. They filled one of the forms 
near the reading-desk, a position selected by the 
Dean with a view to keeping the old folks awake 
during the service. After them the Close families 
came dropping in one by one. 

David rose and opened the door for Alice. 

" You will go in to the service I suppose," he 
said, " it will soon begin now." 

Alice hesitated a little while. Then she replied, 

" If you don't mind, I would a great deal rather 
stay here with you than go down into the 
choir." 

He could scarcely help smiling at her frank, 
girlish simplicity ; but he was glad enough for her 
to stay, and came back again to his seat at the 
organ. 

She held the curtain aside and watched the 
people come in. Mrs. Scrymgeour rustled up the 
broad centre aisle in a severe-looking black dress. 
She carried a parasol, which she handled some- 



200 st. olave's. 

what after the fashion of a beadle's staff, and as 
she stepped along she cast petrifying glances at 
the little chorister boys who were privately making 
faces at her behind their music-books. 

If our happiness in this world depends upon the 
amount of kindly feeling we can draw out of it, 
then Mrs. Archdeacon Scrymgeour's life was not 
passing sweet. After her came Dr. Hewlett, head- 
master of St. Olave's Grammar School, and one 
of the sub-canons of the Cathedral. He was a 
beautiful old man, grand and scholarly-looking, 
yet gentle withal and benignant, as we picture to 
ourselves the Prophet Simeon. 

" There is Miss Bruce," said Alice. " She is 
always so quiet and still, just like a piece of 
music that has no accidental flats and sharps in it, 

and oh, Mr. Bruce ! who is that magnificent 

looking woman walking behind her ?,' 

" Don't pull the curtain so far back, Miss Grey, 
the people below will see us/' and David laid his 
hand on her's to draw it away. 

" I beg pardon, I forgot. But tell me who the 
lady is ?" 

" Her name is Edenall. She is a lady who has 
come " For a moment David was tempted to 



st. olave's. 201 

ignore that part of the Church Catechism which 
inculcates the speaking of the whole truth. How- 
ever, conscientiousness came to the rescue,, and he 
said boldly — 

" She is a lady out of Cumberland, who has 
come to lodge with us." 

Alice did not say anything, but watched the 
stranger as she came up the aisle. Mrs. Edenall 
followed Janet with the step and bearing of a 
princess, her rich dress glancing in the sunshine 
and setting itself into fresh folds with every move- 
ment of her lithe, graceful figure. The Close 
people scanned her very curiously, but she 
seemed quite unconscious of their polite scrutiny. 
One of the vergers came forward, and conducted 
her to a seat in the stalls, near the place Mistress 
Amiel Grey usually occupied, and then, without 
pausing to ascertain whether her dress was serge or 
satin, he brought her a gilded Prayer-book with 
the St. Olave's arms emblazoned on the cover ; a 
fact whereof Mrs. Scrymgeour took notice. 

The service began. It was a stranger who read 
the prayers. Alice could not tell who he was, for 
he sat nearly under the organ. But he had the 
finest voice she had ever heard. It was distinct 



202 st. olave's. 

and clearly modulated as the tones of a perfectly 
tuned instrument. Alice turned to ask Mr. 
Bruce who the reader could be, but his head was 
bowed and his eyes closed,, and she did not dare to 
interrupt him. Then she pressed her face against 
the open fretwork, and tried to look down into 
that part of the choir ; all that she could distinguish 
however was a little bit of white surplice and a 
gleam of crimson silk, which told her that the 
stranger belonged to Oxford. 

She listened and listened. It seemed to her 
she had never heard any music like that voice. 
Alice had a very correct ear ; few things gave her 
greater pleasure than a clear, well managed 
voice. And certainly those old arches, and that 
groined roof had never echoed to sweeter tones than 
those which rang upon them now. Sometimes the 
words came very soft and low, as in the opening 
sentences of confession and supplication. When 
he read the Absolution, they were clear, ringing, 
and authoritative \ and then in the Lord's Prayer 
that followed, they fell into a tender sustained 
monotone, blending with the chanted response of 
the choristers. 

Alice loved to build castles in the air. Like 



203 

most other young girls she spent the half of her 
life in that fascinating but profitless employment. 
And so she began, as she sat there leaning her face 
against the oaken canopy, to weave a little romance 
about the owner of this wondrous voice. She 
pictured him to herself an Apollo of beauty, grand 
and tall and strong, with a face tender, and perhaps 
holy as those of the saints who stood in silent 
majesty within their marble niches in this old 
Cathedral. He must be very noble, so Alice thought 
in her own mind, and the soul must needs be good 
that spoke through a voice so sweet. So she 
dreamed on through all the opening prayers of the 
service, and the angel who kept watch over that 
morning's worship, recorded no petition of hers on 
his open page. 

Then the music began, and Alice's thoughts 
fluttered back again to waking life. David Bruce 
was her hero once more. What a king he looked 
as he sat there in his place at the organ. How, 
obedient to the slightest touch of his fingers, the 
great tones rolled and surged and tumbled, now 
pouring out in a full overmastering torrent of 
sound, now tender as the mother's whispered 
prayer for her sleeping child, then thrilling into a 



204 

long wail that made her heart grow still, it was so 
wild and sad, or rising into a bright joyous 
jubilant strain which almost woke a smile upon the 
quaint sculptured faces peering out from the 
capitals of the clustered columns. And he did it 
so easily. There was no straining, no show of 
effort. Like Moses of old he had but to touch the 
rock and the flood poured forth. 

Alice knelt on one of the cushions by his side 
and looked up at him with child-like reverent awe. 
He took no notice of her; he had gone where she 
could not follow him. His uplifted face grew 
nobler and grander. It seemed to her fancy that 
a strange light beamed from it, transfiguring the 
rugged features into such beauty as she had 
never seen before. She trembled, the tears came 
into her eyes, and then she turned her face away 
and buried it in the crimson curtains. He touched 
her soul through the music, and made it respond 
to him in unspoken wonder and fear. She dared 
not speak any more, and when David turned by 
chance, and saw her kneeling there with bowed 
head, he thought she was joining in the sendee. 
But there was no prayer in the breast of Alice, 
only a dim vague wondering respect for the man 



205 

whose power she had never known until now ; this 
man who had been so kind to her. 

Then came the lesson, read, not by the stranger 
but by another clergyman, a little man with 
a shrill piping voice, which sounded like the 
scraping of a street fiddle after the full rich tones 
of a Cremona. So Alice did not care to listen to 
him, and amused herself instead by watching the 
sunlight as it strayed through the tangled grey 
masses of David's hair, and admiring the grand 
outline of his head pictured upon the background 
of the crimson curtains. She heard the stranger's 
voice no more until he began to intone the Creed 
and the versicles which follow it. Then came the 
music again, and then more prayers, and so Alice's 
thoughts fluttered backwards and forwards from her 
hero in the reading desk to her hero in the organ 
pew, until the service was over. 

The last tones of the chanted Amen died slowly 
out, and then the people began to disperse. Alice 
leaned forward to catch a glimpse of the mysterious 
clergyman amongst the surpliced dignitaries who 
were marching in solemn procession to the vestry. 
But she was too late. The passing sheen of a 
crimson silk hood and a momentary glint of sun- 



206 st. olave's. 

shine on some crisp brown curls were all that she 
saw. Soon the choir was empty , the little chorist- 
ers whisked off their snowy vestments, and appeared 
once more as sublunary youngsters, with very 
dirty collars and hands to match ; the bellows man 
came out of his little den, and set off to his shop in 
the back College Yard, where he carried on the 
occupation of a tailor. Only a few amateur 
musicians loitered about in the nave and criticized 
the anthem which had just been performed. 

" Can you inform me," said Mrs. Scrymgeour 
to the old verger as he held the door open for her 
to pass, " can you inform me who the stranger is 
who came into the stalls this morning, and to 
whom you gave the Prayer-book ? " 

"A lady Ma'am, who is staying with Miss 
Bruce." 

" You did not catch the name, I suppose." 

" No Ma'am." 

Mrs. Scrymgeour swept down the steps, and 
into the sunshiny Close. 

" A visitor," she murmured, " and most certainly 
that was a crest upon the corner of her handker- 
chief. I must ask Mrs. Mams about it ; I believe 
she washes for the Bruce's." 



st. olave's. 207 

David locked the organ and began to pack up 
his books. It had been a very pleasant hour, and 
now it was over. 

" Where does that lead ?" said Alice, pointing to 
a little doorway at the further end of the organ pew. 

" To the gallery round the broad tower, and 
then through a narrow passage over the choir 
arches to the arcade above the east window. 
Strangers are not allowed to go, but the Dean lets 
me have the key, and I often walk up and down 
there when I want to be quiet." 

" Oh, Mr. Bruce, do take me ! Ever since I can 
remember anything, I have wanted so much to 
find out where those queer winding passages lead. 
May we go now ? " 

" I am not sure that it would be safe for you. 
In some parts the pathway is narrow and very 
slightly protected. You might turn giddy with 
looking from such a height. 

" But you know Mr. Bruce, you would be with 
me, and so I could not be afraid." 

David's eyes smiled ; all the rest of his face kept 
its wonted gravity. He opened the little door. 
As he did so, a gust of damp mouldy air swept 
down upon them. Alice shrank back from it. 



208 st. olave's. 

' c Ah, Miss Grey, your courage soon fails ; we 
had better turn back." 

" No. I don't think I am very much afraid ; 
only » 

" Take hold of my hand." 

Without a word she put her hand in his, and 
they began slowly and carefully to climb the narrow 
stair. After mounting some sixty feet they reached 
the gallery round the tower. Here they rested for 
awhile, and then made their way along the 
corridor above the choir, at the end of which was 
a second stair, winding up the interior of one of 
the columns. It was hard work mounting this, 
though David led the way and helped her over 
the rough places. Once only in all the steep 
ascent did the faintest glimmer of light come to 
them. It was from an arched opening in the 
outer wall. Through this opening a huge battered 
gurgoyle leered mockingly upon them with a 
malicious grin. Alice shivered back. Almost 
she expected the gaunt thing to spring forward 
and grip her in its shapeless jaws. Only Mr. 
Bruce was there, and where he stood no harm 
could come. After a little more climbing he 
opened a heavily barred door, and they entered the 



209 

arcade above the east window, from which the 
whole building, with its vast ranges of clustered 
columns necked now with alternate bands of sun- 
light and shadow, was visible at a single glance. 

David Bruce stood apart, with head reverently 
bowed. Familiar as the sight had grown, he 
could never look without awe at the majestic form 
into which the human life of bygone centuries 
had shaped itself. Not chiefly, or indeed in any- 
wise as a mere masterpiece of cunning handicraft, 
did that grand old cathedral impress him. Rather 
it was the spirit-history of those mediaeval monks, 
their hope, joy, reverence, aspiration, graven for 
ever in the stone. Their sins and their penitence 
too. For as children who have unwittingly hurt 
you, bring flowers to lay upon and cover the 
wound, so these men, in the childhood of Christian 
belief, sought to hide with sculptured marble the 
scars of evil memories and deeds that would not be 
forgotten. 

From the height where David Bruce and Alice 
stood, the choir, with its gorgeous array of eccle- 
siastical furniture, seemed diminished to a hand's- 
breath. Dim enough now was the gold embroidered 
velvet of the Episcopal throne ; quite blurred and 

VOL I. P 



210 ST. olave's. 

indistinct the dainty fretwork of the carved and 
canopied stalls. The massive brazen lectern ap- 
peared like a child's toy flashing in the sunshine ; 
the splendid altar-cloth, a crimson stain npon the 
pure white marble pavement. The whole place, 
from which scarce an hour ago the sheen of priestly 
garments and the pomp of chanted worship had 
vanished, showed now but as a speck hardly 
noticed amidst the matchless symmetry that sur- 
rounded it. 

Was there in this a shadowing forth of the 
truth, that as human souls climb the dark stair of 
life, compassed with gloom, beset with the spectral 
forms of doubt and superstition, from all which 
they emerge at length into the royal sunlight of 
pure religious faith, — these time-worn forms and 
ceremonies, grand though they be, do fade into 
insignificance, and there flows in upon the spirit 
ever more and more the beauty of that temple 
made without hands, whose best service is not the 
chanted prayer but the holy life. 

Alice perplexed herself with no such thoughts 
as these. The first gush of wonder spent, she 
began to spell out the designs upon the bosses of 
the groined roof, those quaint devices which had 



st. olave's. 211 

so often perplexed her as she sat in the choir 
below. Surely those monkish sculptors must have 
wrought for love and not for fame, or they would 
never have placed such cunning workmanship 
where few could scan its beauty. Here was a 
medallion of exquisite diaper pattern, chiselled as 
carefully as the ivory work of a jewel-casket ; there 
a cross, wreathed round with clasping foliage; next a 
cluster of vine leaves ; then a trefoil, a rose, a 
marigold. Alice wearied her eyes with tracing out 
the infinite variety of design ; and then for change 
she bent down over the marble floor a hundred 
feet below. 

" Look," she said, by-and-by, " how easy it 
would be to reach that pavement ; a single step 
would do it." 

Involuntarily, David drew nearer to her, and 
put his arm over her to hold her safely. 

She did not offer to move, but still kept look- 
ing steadily down. And then, after a pause, she 
began again upon the same subject, showing that 
her thoughts had all the while been busy with it. 

" I have heard that this sort of feeling, I mean 
this impulse to throw oneself down from a great 
height, is hereditary." 

r 2 



212 st. olave's. 

" In that case, Alice/' replied David, " I hope 
your parents were very steady- headed people. If 
not, this is no place for you," and he turned as if 
wanting to go away ; still, however, keeping hold 
of her dress. But she lingered. 

" I don't know, I can't remember my papa and 
mamma at all. I believe I have lived with Aunt 
Amiel ever since I was a little baby. See, now, 
Mr. Bruce/' and she let fall a tiny shred of paper, 
" how gently it falls ! It would be very easy for 
me to go too." 

David did not like the look on her face ; it was 
deepening into a sort of fascination, and her eyes 
were fixed keenly and intently on the little white 
fragment that was falling like a snow-flake beneath 
them. Something in those eyes reminded him of 
Mrs. Edenall, how, or why, he could not tell ; but 
certainly there was a resemblance. 

" Come away," he said. ' c It grows late, and 
Mrs. Grey will wonder what makes you so long." 

" Must we go, then ? it is so pleasant standing 
here. Aunt Amiel will not wonder about me, but 
if you say so I will go/' and she turned away 
docile and meek as a little child. She never thought 
of disobeying anything that David Bruce said. 



213 

He made her go before him, keeping her always 
within arm's length, and in places where the 
parapet was very low, holding her dress or her 
hand that she might be quite safe. For a long 
time as they came through the damp musty pas- 
sages, neither of them spoke. At last she said 
very softly — 

"Mr. Bruce." 

"Well." 

" You called me ' Alice ' just now." 

" So I did. It was a mistake. I did not think 
of what I was doing. In Scotland we use people's 
names more freely than you do here. But I am 
glad you have told me of it, I shall not do it 
again." 

" Oh ! no, no !" and she looked troubled. " I 
did not mean that. I was glad for you to call me 
so, I was really. Only you know you are the very 
first person, except Aunt Amiel, who has called me 
anything but ' Miss Grey/ But I like it." 

And then, after a moment's pause, she repeated, 
" I like it very much." 

They had now got to the little door which led 
into the organ-pew, and a flash of sunshine, 
streaming upon them as they entered it, showed all 



214 st. olave's. 

the mischief which the morning's ramble had worked 
on Alice's toilette. Her pink dress, which had 
looked as dainty and fresh as a new-blown rose 
when she left the Old Lodge that morning, was 
discoloured with mildew from the damp mouldy 
walls ; in many places her black lace scarf showed 
evident traces of contact with lime dust ; and as 
for her sunny brown curls — over and over again 
her straw hat had been knocked off by a project- 
ing beam or unexpectedly low archway — the less 
said about their smoothness the better. 

It is a popular delusion that hair out of curl 
adds to the beauty, or at least the interest of a 
lady's personal appearance. Public opinion on 
this matter is wofully misled. Poets and novelists 
have sung the praises of untidy coiffures with 
most unprincipled eloquence. To depict a romantic 
heroine, according to the present accepted canons 
of taste, her head must look as if it had been trailed 
through a bramble bush. Without the shadow of 
a doubt, the heroines of Ossi?n's poems owe much 
of their popularity to their contempt for combs and 
brushes. The Malvinas and Leonoras and Cath- 
Lodas, whose streamy locks were spread upon their 
snowy bosoms, and whose white hands gathered up 



st. olave's. 215 

their loose tresses from the rolling winds, Avould 
not have been a tithe so bewitching if they had 
worn their hair in chenille nets, or had it nicely 
rolled over frizettes and smoothed with bandoline, 
like well-conducted girls of the present day. And 
because untidy hair has made Ossian^s women 
famous, damsels of the nineteenth century are apt 
to think it will suit them too. There could not be 
a greater mistake. Dishevelled locks look well in a 
picture, and don't read badly in a cleverly written 
tale, but in actual life the case is widely different. 
For a single young lady who looks well with her 
hair in a state of chaos, there are nine hundred and 
ninety-nine for whom the experiment is most 
hazardous, and one which they will be wise not to 
try. 

It must be confessed, however, that Alice Grey 
bore the test remarkably well. Her straying curls 
only caught and entangled extra sunbeams, and 
the consciousness of her somewhat disorderly ap- 
pearance brought a flush to her young cheek, which 
made her look, in David Brace's eyes, prettier far 
than the most elaborately got up ball-room belle 
that ever stepped out of a carriage. 

" I ought to have told you what dirty places 



216 st. olave's. 

those passages are before I took you through them/' 
he said; "It hasn't been worth all the trouble, has 
it now?" 

" I don't care a bit for the trouble/' Alice re- 
plied, laughing merrily and shaking the dust out 
of her dress. " I didn't know there were half so 
many queer places in this old Cathedral. It is 
like finding fresh ins and outs in the character of 
some one you have known a long while. I dare 
say I do look something of a fright though, but 
you must not look at me." 

David did look at her, nevertheless ; although he 
said nothing. 

And so they came back again into the cushioned 
organ pew. It was in terrible confusion ; all the 
chant and anthem books lying just as they had 
been left an hour ago, and the precious old manu- 
script fugues scattered some on the floor and 
others on the music desk. David began to re- 
arrange a little. 

" Let me help you," said Alice, " I can put 
those books away for you at any rate." 

He told her the shelves to which they belonged. 
It pleased her to be useful, and she set to work 
with the happy, contented, half-important look of 



st. olave's. 217 

a little child that is allowed to help its mother in 
some trifling household duty. David could not 
help smiling at her as she tugged away at the 
great unwieldy folios, and covered her little fingers 
with the dust that had been accumulating for 
scores of years. When she had done, she seemed 
quite out of breath with the unwonted exertion. 

" You are tired. I am afraid you are not ac- 
customed to such hard work." 

" Oh, no," she said, eagerly, a I am so glad to do 
it for you. I always like to do anything for people 
that have been — for people that I care for " 

David Bruce moved forward a little, so as to 
stand in front of her, and taking the two dusty 
little hands into his, looked steadily down into her 
flushed face. 

"So then, Alice, — you see I am going to do as 
you told me, and call you by your name — you do 
care for me a little V 

She returned his glance with one frank, free, 
innocent — one in which all her soul looked through 
to his. 

" Yes ; I care for you very much. You have 
been very kind to me, and I have been a great 
deal happier since I knew you." 



218 st. olate's. 

He let her hands go again. He would have 
been as well pleased had she not looked him so 
fearlessly in the face, had the sunny curls drooped 
closely over the flushed cheek, instead of being 
shaken back with such a frank, fearless gesture. 
Still he smiled quietly, and made that smile serve 
instead of any words. 

For, indeed, as Alice had said not long ago to 
her Aunt Amiel, Mr. Bruce was such a quiet man, 
— such a very quiet man. 

He stood back for her to pass him, and they 
went down the narrow organ stair into the north 
aisle, through which there was a private door that 
led into the Close. Here Alice shook hands with 
him. 

" You have given me a great treat this morn- 
ing. Thank you very much for it/' 

Then she darted away from him across the 
Close, and almost before he could realize that she 
had left his side, the last gleam of her pink dress 
was disappearing behind the low bushes of the 
Lodge garden. 

He stood there for awhile as one in a dream, 
looking towards the place where she had flitted 



219 

out of sight. And then, with slow footsteps and 
thoughtful face, turned into the little lane that led 
down to the Westwood Road. 



220 




CHAPTER XIV. 

HE summer wore on, and St. Olave's 
began to manifest the usual symp- 
toms of the season. Young col- 
legians, with elaborate neckties and miracu- 
lous whiskers, sauntered round the Cathedral 
Close, and ogled the young ladies at morning 
and afternoon prayers. The shooting season com- 
menced. The quiet little railway station, quiet 
at least for most part of the year, was overrun 
with blase-lookmg men of fashion, who returned 
at intervals of ten days or a fortnight, with sprigs 
of heather in their wide-awake hats, and a general 
air of having seen the world about them. Besides 
these great guns of gentility, who were solicitously 
waited upon by the porters, and before whom 
hotel waiters stood cap in hand, there were others, 



221 

not a few, of rougher social ordnance, who came 
into the place, some by parliamentary trains, and 
some by cattle trucks, in search of hay-making 
or harvest work. Bronze-faced, brawny- chested, 
hard-handed men they were ; the workers of the 
community, who form the pavement, stout and 
well-trodden down — in more senses than one — of 
that national platform whereon we of the upper 
classes perform our graceful steps. And night 
after night these might be seen trooping down 
the country roads which led into St. Olave's, and 
drafting off into dingy back alleys, where they kept 
the police constantly at work quieting their small 
broils and disturbances. 

Then the purple sunsets of early autumn came, 
steeping the Cathedral front in soft warm haze, 
and studding, as with many coloured jewels, the 
famous old west window ; and in early morning the 
hedge-rows were spangled with dew drops, and 
thin gossamer films, the embroidery work of 
fashionable lady spiders, who had nothing else to 
employ their time, floated from branch to branch 
of the reddening bramble bushes. 

But Janet Bruce and Mrs. Edenall made little 
or no headway with each other. They " got on/ 



222 

as the saying is, well enough. Mrs. Edenall 
settled down very patiently into the quiet ways 
of the Westwood people, made no complaint of 
the dulness and utter inanity of the place, never 
gave Tibbie needless trouble in fetching or carry- 
ing for her, and took things as they came with a 
grand, quiet, lofty sort of indifference, that would 
neither be pleased nor pained by anything. 
Holding each other's hand night by night in a 
friendly parting clasp — they always kept up this 
fiction of good fellowship — meeting each other 
morning by morning with words of pleasant 
greeting, sitting by the same fireside, and ex- 
changing every day the customary courtesies of 
life, these two women were as utter strangers 
to each other's real self, as when, eight weeks 
ago, fate or fortune had first thrown them 
together. 

One reason for this might be that Janet Bruce 
was singularly wanting in the element of curiosity. 
That quality which in great minds strikes out new 
tracks of thought and reaches after fresh discoveries, 
in medium minds stores up information about facts 
and things, and in little minds busies itself with 
the pitiful peddlings of gossip, was in her wholly 



st. olave's. 223 

lacking. She had not the art, which some women 
use to such advantage, of asking little innocent side 
questions seemingly vague and unimportant, and 
then from the answers to them deducing conclu- 
sions by no means so unimportant. She was not 
expert in gathering up chance remarks, or inadver- 
tent expressions, and weaving from them an hypo- 
thesis of history or character. Janet Bruce was 
purely simple and truthful. What information 
she required she asked for straightforwardly with- 
out shifts" or excuses, but it was little that she 
cared to know about any one. 

Also, except where her affections were con- 
cerned, and these now were almost entirely gather- 
ed round her brother, Janet had little perception, 
little of what society calls tact. She was not very 
observant, not very sympathizing. Perhaps this 
was just the reason why she and Mrs. Edenall got 
on so well together. Neither made any very great 
demands upon the affection of the other. Neither 
felt herself wounded or grieved by the absence of 
those little caressing attentions which seem to make 
up the entire happiness of many. 

Some women are like grape vines, always throw- 
ing out little tendrils of love and longing, yearning 



224 

for expressed sympathy, for the touch of a human 
hand and the warmth of a human heart ; restless 
until something is found round which they may 
cling, and when found covering it with rich luxuri- 
ance of affection and friendliness. And others are 
like reeds, — straight, even, upright. Weak 
enough truly, yet ever condemned to stand alone, 
having not even the power to cling to anything. 
All that they can do is to stretch upwards, to keep 
erect as long as they can; then when the time 
comes, break and fall and die. 

Such, at least, so far as any outward observer 
could judge of her, was Mrs. Edenall. She lived 
within herself. All of intensity and passion that 
stirred beneath the surface, all hope and longing, 
all kindness even and gentle womanly love, had 
never leave to pass the portal of speech or action. 
She was one of those for whom, 

" Being observed, 
When observation is not sympathy ; 
Is just being tortured." 

Janet Brace's quietness of mind and manner, 
her dulness of comprehension, was a positive rest 
to Mrs. Edenall. It was pleasant to her to feel 
that she could do as she liked without fear of ob- 



st. olave's. 225 

servation or remark. She liked to know that she 
might crouch down for hours on that low window 
seat in the Westwood parlour, gazing dreamily out 
into the still garden, or lie on the sofa, evening 
after evening, with shut eyes and clasped hands ; 
and the quiet woman at her side would think 
nothing about it, know nothing about it ; would 
never inquire if she had a headache, and offer 
smelling salts; never look " sympathizing," or 
ask if anything was preying on her mind ; never 
even, by a closer clasp of the hand, a tenderer 
glance of the deep limpid dark eye, betray ac- 
knowledge of the struggle within. 

Yes ; as David Bruce had told his sister that 
first evening, all that Mrs. Edenall wanted was the 
luxury of being let alone. And in truth, when 
one comes to think about it, how rarely does any 
human being enjoy this luxury. 

It was only at Westwood that Mrs. Edenall got 
it. The good people of St. Olave's, especially the 
Close families, had no notion of letting alone any- 
one who came into their select midst. Non-inter- 
ference was no article of their creed. The least, 
according to their opinion, that any new resident 
in the place ought to do, was either to give, or 

VOL. I. Q 



226 

allow to be taken by a committee of ladies ap- 
pointed for tbat purpose, a full, perfect and com- 
plete account of his or ber antecedents, including 
birth, parentage, family connexions and previous 
manner of life. Until this preliminary ceremony 
had been gone through, matriculation in the Col- 
lege of social status was impracticable, and the 
diploma of position unattainable. 

The architectural fabric of society in a Cathedral 
city, has this peculiarity. A definite place is 
assigned to every stone that is carted to the 
building, and into that place, or none at all, must 
it find its way. 

Now in a heterogeneous, carelessly put together 
edifice like a manufacturing town for instance, 
things are very different. If a stone is fractious, 
and won't fit into one position, the master mason 
finds another for it. If it refuses to form the 
pediment of a doorway, it may help to support the 
framework of a window ; or failing this, it may be 
made useful in blocking up an aperture, or finish- 
ing off a stack of chimneys. Or come the worst 
that may, it can but be quietly hustled into some 
back corner where no one hears anything more 
about it. 



st. olave's. 227 

Not so in an ecclesiastical city ; not so in St. 
Olave's. No loose stones mnst be left littering around 
to mar the propriety of the social edifice. From 
the topmost pinnacle of the building, the Lord 
Bishop himself, the pride and glory of the place, 
down to the washerwoman who " did up " the 
choristers' surplices at eighteenpence per dozen, 
starching them for Easter Sunday and Christmas 
Day included, every stone had its own place and 
did its own duty. Where, then, was Mrs. Edenall 
to be put ? 

So far as the outer woman went, she was unex- 
ceptionable. This the ladies of the Close families 
had decided in solemn conclave. Her moire-an- 
tiques were of the softest and richest fabrics, her 
shawls of veritable Cashmere. The cloak that 
sailed so majestically up the Cathedral aisle morn- 
ing after morning, was of Spanish lace, not a 
doubt about it j so said Mrs. Crumpet, the Canon's 
lady, who had moved her seat two or three stalls 
nearer Mrs. Edenall's place one fine morning, 
in order that she might get a good view of it during 
the reading of the lessons. Her bonnets were such 
as could not be had for love or money, except from 
the costly warerooms of Regent Street milliners. 

Q2 



228 st. olave's. 

Gloves, handkerchiefs, boots, — those little straws 
which, as every lady knows, tell how the current of 
good taste goes — were exquisitely neat and fitting. 
So far then Mrs. Edenallwas eligible for admission 
into the guild of polite society. 

As to intelligence, if that might be permitted to 
put a weight into the balance, she had enough of 
it and to spare. More than once she had been 
seen poring over the musty tomes of the Latin 
Fathers, or reading in their original tongue, the 
numbers of Virgil and Homer. The Minster 
Library was open three times a week, and visitors 
going there, generally found her at work on some 
of its dusty old treasures. Moreover the librarian 
of the St. Olave's Athenaeum affirmed that she 
was well-up in the literature of the day, and 
could hold arguments on social and scientific sub- 
jects as well as any of the masculine loungers 
in that temple of the muses. 

But the ladies of the Close families scorned to 
give the right-hand of fellowship to such mere 
externals as these. They did not gauge gentility 
by Genoa velvet paletots, or throw open their re- 
ception rooms to the potent charms of a twelve 
guinea moire- antique. The richest shawl that 



229 

Indian looms ever wove was of small value in their 
eyes,, unless the heart over which it was folded 
beat with the pulse of blood three centuries old at 
the very least. Intellect too, except so much of it as 
came by descent, was nothing cared for. The 
granite of mental and moral worth, which, by its 
own unaided force, heaves up from beneath and 
pushes up stratum after stratum of social degree, 
until at last it proudly overtops them all, won for 
its possessor neither place nor favour in the aristo- 
cratic circles of St. Olave's. The veriest shallow- 
pate with a title on his back and a crest on his 
teaspoons, was of more standing there than the 
kingliest king that science ever crowned. Blood ; 
this was what the St. Olave's people cared for; this 
they would have or nothing at all. 

"Birth and breeding, my dear friends/' said 
Mrs. Scrymgeour — the Archdeacon's widow was 
generally Lady-president of these "Position" 
committee meetings. " Let us assure ourselves of 
these indispensable requisites, and the rest can be 
easily adjusted." 

But by-and-by, report, which is always busy in 
a small Cathedral city, began to whisper that, in 
these "indispensable requisites," Mrs. Edenall 



230 st. olave's. 

could stand an examination. Her linen was 
marked with a crest j so said Mrs. Marris, the 
washerwoman, who told it to the parlour-maid at 
Chapter Court, one morning when she came for 
the tea leaves ; and the parlour-maid took advan- 
tage of a good-tempered interval to tell it to the 
Archdeacon's widow herself. 

She had a courtly tread, a regal hearing, which 
not even the Bishop's lady could match. Her 
face was fine, clear, exquisitely chiselled, of that 
grand calm contour which blossoms out from cen- 
turies of unblemished pedigree. Her accent — 
they had occasionally heard her speak to the 
librarian, or to the old vergers at the Minster — was 
proud and dainty ; the H, that pons asinorum of 
plebeian conversationalists, honestly dealt with, and 
the intonation perfect. 

These things the Close families could compre- 
hend, and they took out their card- cases in readi- 
ness for a call at Westwood. But still there were 
a few little matters which they could not so well 
comprehend. Mrs. Edenall had been known to set 
the laws of etiquette at shameless defiance by 
walking out alone after dusk. She was also accus- 
tomed to sit in the Minster Library reading, 



231 

meditating, or sometimes writing for hours to- 
gether, a thing which no lady, except, indeed, one 
or two professed blue stockings who thought them- 
selves great in dead languages or wished others to 
think them so — had ever done. Indeed the Canon ; s 
lady had almost persuaded her husband to promise 
that he would take an early opportunity of hinting 
to the stranger that in St. Olave's, at any rate, it 
was not customary for unprotected females to per- 
form such assiduous public devotions at the shrine 
of literature. Mrs. Scrymgeour too, proposed, and 
another member of the committee seconded the 
motion, that Mrs. EdenalTs behaviour at the 
Cathedral service was not such as suited the dignity 
of the place. She was in the habit of leaning back 
within her canopied stall, and either staring up to 
the bossed roof — it was very beautiful certainly, 
but the reading of the First Lesson was not the 
time to admire it, — or eagerly criticizing, as if she 
expected to recognize a face amongst them, the 
groups of loungers who strolled in to listen to the 
music. And as for finding the places in her prayer- 
book, Mrs. Scrymgeour was quite sure she never 
attempted to do such a thing. Indeed that femi- 
nine censor of public behaviour thought she should 



232 

not be going too far if she asserted that the gold 
embroidered marker in the book which Mrs. Eden- 
all used had not moved forward a single page since 
the first Sunday after Trinity. Such conduct Mrs. 
Scrymgeour thought was reprehensible — to say 
the least of it — and ought to be inquired into be- 
fore the lady who practised it was admitted to the 
rights and privileges of fellowship with the Close 
families. 

So the result was that after the Position Com- 
mittee meeting had sat once or twice upon Mrs.- 
Edenall — they found the case rather a difficult one, 
the pros and cons being so nicely balanced — she 
was placed along with Janet and David Bruce in 
an out -building of the great social edifice, there 
to remain until further notice ; and the pearl card- 
cases were replaced in the pockets of the owners. 

The fact was, that for once in their lives the 
Close people were obliged to own themselves 
baffled. They really could not tell what to make 
of the new comer. They felt somewhat as a brood 
of ancient, well-connected, highly respectable hens 
may be supposed to feel, when a stray moor-fowl, 
with its keen eye, its unaccustomed note, and alien 
plumage lights in their midst. 



233 

So Mrs. Scrymgeour and her committee con- 
tented themselves with talking Mrs. Edenall over 
at their tea-tables and luncheon-trays. They 
darted inquisitive glances from the corners of 
their eyes when she passed them in the Close — to 
turn bravely round and satisfy their curiosity by 
an honest stare was an enormity of which no St. 
Olave's lady would have been guilty — they criticized 
her with might and main as she walked morning by 
morning, pale, passionless, stately, to her place in 
the Cathedral choir; but until they were well 
assured that she was " respectable " not a step 
further would they go. 

Poor folks ! Well, they had their little foibles, 
but so have other people. Manufacturing towns 
want wealth. Cathedral cities ask for pedigree. 
St. Olave's would allow its daughters to dance with 
the vilest roue in Christendom if he had the re- 
version of a baronetcy or was brother to a Countess. 
Millsmany forces its young ladies into the arms of 
cotton lords whose brains are as shallow as their 
coffers are deep. In St. Olave's, pedigree was a 
lever which could raise the most worthless to social 
rank and distinction. In Millsmany, gold does 
the same kind office for those who can scatter 



234 st. olave's. 

it broadcast through the streets : the devotees of 

Mammon bow down to the man who owns acres of 

machinery, while they despise the poor fellow 

whose imagination is his manufactory and whose 

only warehouse is his brain. The good folks of 

St. Olave's would gladly have paved Mrs. Edenall's 

sitting-room with visiting cards had she been the 

daughter of a Knight, or possessed connections in 

the Church, but they would never, no never, call 

upon a lonely woman who went out unattended 

after dark, and came to the place without any 

letters of introduction. 

And so the world goes. 



235 



CHAPTER XV. 



m 



iHnwnn w> 



! LICE GREY was the first to break 
through this chevaux defrise of conven- 
tionality. As Janet's friend she had 
often called at Westwood, but it always chanced 
that Mrs. Edenall was out, or secluded in her 
own room, so that they never saw each other 
except at the Cathedral service. About a week 
before the picnic, Alice set off to Westwood pur- 
posely to see her, and get her to join'their party. 

It was early, quite too early for a call of cere- 
mony, but Alice came to Janet Bruce now at all 
hours of the day, sometimes before the dew had 
dried up from the little grass plot, sometimes 
when the evening shadows were creeping round 
and about the quiet garden. 



236 st. olave's. 

This morning Tibbie had got the front door 
wide open, and with a huge harden apron tied 
down over her blue petticoat, was on her hands 
and knees scouring the stone entrance. It was 
a roomy, old-fashioned hall, rather wide for so 
small a house. It was paved with alternate 
squares of grey and white marble, similar to the 
floor of the Cathedral, and perhaps like it too, 
made of old gravestones, for here and there were 
tracings which looked as if they might once 
have formed parts of monumental inscriptions. 

"Ye be speerin' for Miss Janet then/' was 
the old woman's greeting, as she heard Alice's 
step on the gravel walk; " she's awa the noo wi' 
her tracs, but she'll no be lang, I'm thinkin'." 

" And," added Tibbie, after a pause, pointing 
with her scrubbing-brush to the best parlour 
door, f ' t'other leddy's ben, an' ye can go in an' 
crack tull her a wee. I'm feared she's awfu' 
lonesome whiles." 

" Thank you, Tibbie, I'll come in and rest, if 
you think Miss Bruce won't be long." 

Tibbie led the way, passing with Amazonian 
strides from mat to mat, a feat which Alice tried 
to imitate, knowing that the canny Scotchwoman 



st. olave's. 237 

was particular about not having her wet floors 
trodden upon. She was fain, however, to jump 
instead of stride. 

"It's marry to yersel' is that Miss Grey/' 
said Tibbie ; ' ' ye're sae thochtfu' ; it ain't mony 
a young leddy as'll save an auld wife's back 
that way. Go your ways in, she's all her lane." 

Alice knocked at the door and entered, bringing 
with her, as she always did, into that quiet room, a 
waft of air and sunshine. 

Mrs. Edenall was sitting in the window seat, 
looking out into the garden ; not the front part of 
it, across which Alice had come, but that little 
plot of grass bordered with lilac and linden trees, 
which opened out towards the east front of the 
Minster. She rose as the young girl came in, 
drawing herself up with that half-defiant, touch- 
me-not sort of stateliness which seemed to be 
her wont when addressing strangers. 

" Excuse me, I have not the pleasure of know- 
ing you." 

She said this in a rich, musical voice, which 
thrilled down into Alice's soul, and a slight ges- 
ture of recognition, whose exquisite grace a queen 
might have tried in vain to imitate. 



238 st. olave's. 

" I am Alice Grey, a friend of Miss Bruce's," 
and Alice, loving as she was, shrank somewhat 
from asking this icicle of a woman to join the 
merry little birthday party. However, the thing 
had got to be done. 

" Miss Grey. Yes, I have heard that name before. 
Miss Bruce has spoken of you sometimes." 

She came forward and took Alice's hand. For 
a full moment the two looked at each other with 
that first questioning, intercommuning look, which 
sometimes finds out more than years of after inter- 
course. 

Have you never had a curious, inexplicable feel 
when holding the hand of a stranger in yours, 
and searching his or her face ? A most clear and 
unmistakable consciousness that you have clasped 
that hand before, that somewhere, in this or 
another world you have seen that face ? Have you 
not felt that indeed the stranger is no stranger, but 
familiar to you as the faces of your own fireside ? 
Nay, even the voice has a ring in it that has 
fallen on your ears in dreams a hundred times, 
and comes to you like the music of an old song, 
that dimly works its way back again through the 
winding tracks of memory. 



239 

With just such a clear, and yet undefinable 
consciousness, these two now held each other's 
hands, and looked into each other's faces, and 
listened to each other's voices. Alice standing 
there with her innocent, happy past ; Mrs. Eden- 
all with 

Well, who shall say that her past was other 
than innocent? Certainly there was no acknow- 
ledgment of guilt in the regal port and gesture 
in the proudly lifted head and clear, steady 
glance. That the past had not been happy, Mrs. 
Edenall's face, with its deep worn lines, told beyond 
question ; but who, as yet, should put the brand of 
sin upon it ? 

She dropped Alice's hand at last, and went 
back to her seat in the window, a little sadder 
looking perhaps, but grand and quiet still. And 
then there fell a silence between them. 

Mrs. Edenall did not seem inclined to break it, 
and Alice knew not how. She twined and un- 
twined the long fringes of her parasol, studied 
more closely than ever before the carved oaken 
frame of the mirror over the fireplace, and longed 
for Miss Bruce to come back. She was thankful 
for the sound of Tibbie's floorcloth and scrubbing 



240 st. olave's. 

brush to break the dead stillness which grew more 
and more wearisome. 

At last she made a desperate effort and said, 
"I hope you find it pleasant and comfortable 
here." 

Mrs. Edenall started. The words had evidently 
roused her from a reverie. 

" Oh, yes, I manage well enough. I don't 
want anything but quietness, and I get plenty of 
that. The Bruces are thoroughly steady people." 

" But I was not thinking of Westwood only. I 
mean how do you like St. Olave's." 

" St. Olave's appears to me to be an elaboration 
of Westwood. It is like a pool of stagnant 
water." 

" Perhaps if you had a microscope you might 
find plenty of life in the stagnant pool," suggested 
Alice. 

Mrs. Edenall smiled, no, it was scarcely a smile, 
just a momentary softening of the quiet, almost 
stony face. 

( ' I daresay the St. Olave's animalculse have a 
life of their own, such as it is. I have not cared 
yet to examine it minutely. The place seems 
to me hopelessly dull and stupid." 



241 

"Well, so it is, except at certain times." 
Alice was getting into quite a conversational vein 
now. " For instance, at the Festival, strangers 
come from all parts of the country." 

" Ha, do they ?" 

Sometimes there came a strange change over 
Mrs. EdenalTs countenance, which showed that 
its habitual quietness was but like the grey ashen 
film of burning charcoal, beneath which the red 
heat ever and anon strikes out in fierce quivering 
flashes. She turned quickly round. 

" From all parts of the country did you say ?" 

" Oh yes, Ireland and Scotland too. I believe 
very many come out of Scotland." 

There was no repose in Mrs. EdenaH's face now, 
none of the careless pride which queened it 
there a moment ago. A keen, restless look 
came into her eyes, the same look as when 
she had first heard Janet Bruce's voice ; and the 
hands which were clasped together in her lap 
almost trembled. Alice went on, glad enough to 
find something to talk about. 

" In the height of summer the place is certainly 
dull, but just about now, when the shooting season 
has commenced, a great number of strangers come 

vol. I. R 



242 st. olave's. 

to St. Olave's. You know the railway station is 
on the route from London to the West of Scot- 
land, and the express stops three-quarters of an 
hour, just long enough for people to see the 
Minster." 

' ' Indeed, that accounts for the groups of people 
I have seen lately strolling in about service time — 
upper class people, too." 

" Yes, I suppose half the nobility in the kingdom 
get strained through our little station from August 
to October. Dressmakers go there on purpose to 
see the fashions, and milliners get the new shapes 
for hats. I saw such a pretty one there the other 
day when I went to meet a lady." 

But Mrs. Edenall did not want to hear about 
hat-shapes, pretty or the reverse. 

( ' And about the Festival which you mentioned, 
when is it V* 

" It comes once in three years. The place is 
turned upside down for about a week, and then 
things go back to their old quietness. It is a great 
time for the painters and paperers." 

u And when will the next take place ?" 

" About the middle of February. I expect it 
will be very grand, more so than the last one. 



st. olave's. 243 

They say the Hall of Guild is to be entirely refitted 
for the occasion." 

Here Miss Bruce came in, and the subject was 
discontinued. Mrs. Edenall looked slightly dis- 
appointed, but she made no effort to keep it up. 
Janet began to tell them about a case of distress 
■which she had met with in the district. 

" A poor woman/' she said, laying down her 
tracts and a little satchel from which she had 
been ministering to the temporal wants of the 
people ; for Janet wisely thought that tracts alone, 
however beautifully written, were not sufficient 
to keep body and soul together. "A poor 
woman, who has been deserted by her husband. 
I'm sure it is quite disheartening the number of 
such instances one meets with now. There must be 
a. great amount of wretchedness in married life 
amongst the lower classes." 

" Did you do anything for her, Miss Bruce ?" 
said Alice. 

" I gave her a little relief, and promised to call 
again. I scarcely liked to say much until I knew 
more about her. One of the neighbours told me 
the man was not her husband. If it is so, of 
course it is very sad, but still the poor thing's 

r 2 



244 st. olave's. 

distress is the same. Don't you think so, Mrs. 
Edenall? You know some people judge these 
cases very severely, but I scarcely know what to 
think." 

Mrs. Edenall answered not a word. She had 
turned her face away from them both, and was 
looking out into the garden. Her hands were 
fast clenched together, her lips compressed into a 
narrow crimson streak. She often used to stand 
in this way. 

Janet did not ask her again, but went on talking 
to Alice about the woman, and devising some 
scheme for her relief. By-and-by Alice explained 
the errand on which she came to Westwood. 

" I want to arrange," she said, c ' about our going 
to Norlands on Thursday if the day is fine — and 
if it is not we shan't go at all. It would be much 
pleasanter walking than riding. The cottage is 
scarcely three miles away, and the road is so shady 
we could manage it nicely. You will join us Mrs. 
Edenall, will you not ?" and Alice turned towards 
the window. " Indeed it was my chief object in 
coming this morning, to ask you. I am sure you 
will be pleased with the place." 

(i Thank you," replied Mrs. Edenall in tones to 



st. olave's. 245 

which all their old coldness and hauteur had come 
back. "I shall much prefer remaining quietly 
here. I rarely go into society, and never enjoy it.'' 

Truly she was a strange woman this lodger of 
Miss Bruce's ; one moment eager and interested , 
the next chill and gelid as an iceberg. She of- 
fered no further apology for declining the invi- 
tation, and did not even smooth the abruptness of 
the refusal, with any of those graces of speech by 
which people of tact make the waiving of a favour 
as pleasant as its acceptance. 

Alice looked pained. It was seldom any kind- 
ness of hers was so completely thrown back in her 
face ; but she did not press the matter, and went on 
making her arrangements with Miss Bruce. 

" I don't think you will care for staying in the 
grounds all the afternoon. We generally play 
games, or dance, or have music, and that sort of 
thing, which would not be much in your way. 
And so I thought after dinner you and Mr. Bruce 
and I would walk to the village of Norlands. It 
is about a mile and a half farther on. There are 
some interesting Roman remains and an old tower. 
The country round about there too is rather wild 
and beautiful, I think you would like it/' 



246 st. olave's. 

" Yes, your aunt was telling me, the evening I 
came to take tea with you/' said Janet, counting 
over her tracts and noting down in her visiting 
book the number of bread tickets she had given 
away. " Indeed I had heard of those Roman re- 
mains before I came to St Olave's." 

" You mean in Scotland. I daresay you would. 
You know the Scotch people are rather partial to 
Norlands ; they say it is the scene of part of one 
of Sir Walter Scott's novels. And then the scenery 
round being so fine too, makes it a favourite place 
with them. Aunt Amiel thinks it is almost 
equal to some parts of the Highlands. Perhaps 
you don't know Scotland, Mrs. Edenall," and 
Alice turned once more to the stately figure, 
draped in black, which still stood by the window. 

" I have been in the country once." 

" Ah, then, you won't care for anything in the 
way of landscape scenery that we can offer you 
here. But I think Miss Bruce," and Alice turned 
back to Janet, ' ' we can make a pleasant day of it, 
and at any rate the little change will do you 
good." 

" You are very kind," said Janet. " Then shall 
we call for you at the Old Lodge ?" 



st. olave's. 247 

c ' Yes, please, about ten o'clock. The rest of 
the people will not come till later on in the morn- 
ing, but I must be there to see that Mrs. Cro- 
marty has made everything ready. Miss Luckie 
has promised to help me this year as Aunt 
Amiel can't go, and so we shall make a nice little 
party. But I must go now/' 

She went forward to shake hands with Mrs. 
Edenall. 

" I am so sorry you cannot join us, but I do 
not like to press it upon you. Still we should 
have been very glad of your company/' 

Alice said this in her frank, kind-hearted, genial 
way, with no show of stiffness or offence. Was it 
just a sudden fit of caprice, or regret for having 
wounded the feelings of another, or had Alice 
unconsciously touched some old sleeping memory 
in her heart, that Mrs. Edenall as she held out 
her hand said gently, almost humbly — 

"If Miss Grey will allow me to change my 
mind, it would give me pleasure to join the party 
on Thursday. And I hope she will not think I 
am quite insensible to her kindness in asking me. 9i 

And so it was settled that they were all to go 
together. 



248 



mm 



CHAPTER XVI. 

U S— !S I ^-"^ birthday pic-nic passed off very suc- 
cessfully. It was oue of those luscious 
fall-ripe early autumn days, with a dash 
of crisp frostiness mingling with the 
golden warmth of its sunshine, and making it all 
the more piquant and racy ; like the spice of pepper 
in a well-seasoned dish, or the tiniest ruffle of ill- 
temper on»the face of a very beautiful woman. 

Mistress Amiel Grey's cottage at Norlands, was 
a primitive-looking spot — something after the 
pattern of the Old Lodge itself, only on a smaller 
scale. The outside still remained, as some sturdy 
squire of Queen's Anne's time had left it, quaint, 
and queer, and irregular. Three tall gables fronted 
the west, trailed over with ivy, green, and luxu- 



st olave's. 249 

riant in some parts, in others showing nothing 
but gnarled, rugged, grey stumps, round which, in 
summer-time, yellow jasmin and Virginian 
creeper wound their tinted sprays. A huge 
jargonelle pear-tree monopolized the whole of the 
south wall and paid for the sunshine which it 
consumed, in annual bushel-baskets full of 
juicy, golden fruit. The inside of the house had 
been changed, from time to time, to suit the tastes 
of different occupiers ; but still there was an air of 
eld about the place which no modern improvements 
could charm away. Most of the rooms were low, 
with oaken beams running across the ceiling, and 
small lattice windows, whose diamond- shaped 
panes were traced over, here and there, with the 
names of former tenants. Uncouth, old-fashioned 
names most of them were, written in careful text- 
hand, finished off with elaborate flourishes that 
must have cost many an hour of patient labour. 
And bits of carving still lingered about, here and 
there, over doorways and round chimney-pieces 
and panels, which hinted of bygone wealth and 
grandeur ; just as, sometimes, a single flower will 
bloom up amongst the brown and withered leaves 
of autumn-time to tell of the glory that is past. 



250 

Across the window of the front parlonr a huge old 
elm-tree flung its straggling black branches, cast- 
ing fanciful shadows into the room, and making 
a famous resting-place for the rooks, who cawed 
in undisturbed peace through the long, still, dreamy 
summer days. 

The garden of the cottage at Norlands was just 
a pleasant untrimmed wilderness of old English 
herbs and flowers. Rank, seldom-mown grass 
plots wandered about and lost their way amongst 
bushes of lilac, white and purple, or struck up 
against thick beech -tree hedges into sunny banks, 
where violets and primroses bloomed all through 
the flowery spring-time. 

Scarcely had the last of these died out, when the 
lilies of the valley, under the south gable, unclos- 
ing their green sheaths, shook out thousands of 
fluttering perfumed bells ; and the wild hyacinths 
bloomed up like a soft blue-grey mist on the grassy 
path that led to the orchard. 

Later on, when the sunshine grew hot and 
weary, pansies, with golden cheeks and purple 
eyes, peered out from among their nestling leaves ; 
and roses, red, white, and damask, lifted up their 
royal heads upon a background of dark Portugal 



251 

aurels, which had been fattening in the rich soil 
for a hundred years and more. And, branching off 
from these untamed masses of colour, cool, shel- 
tered alleys of honeysuckle and lilac led you away 
to some pleasant seat under cedar or drooping 
beech, where you might sit for hours listening to 
the caw of the rooks in the elm-tree by the parlour 
window, or watch the idle bees go floating through 
the air. 

a Idle bees \" says some one, and then comes a 
quotation from the " Moral Songs for Children." 

Yes, spite of Dr. Watts' poetical wisdom, I be- 
lieve in the idleness of bees. Don't talk of their 
being always on the look-out for work as they buzz 
past in the sunshine, or poise themselves on the 
petals of the nodding flowers. They love play as 
well as kittens and children do. There would 
speedily be a revolution in the bee-hive if its 
queen enforced amongst her subjects the unmiti- 
gated industry for which naturalists give them 
credit, and not a ten but a five hours' bill would be 
brought into the Apiarian Parliament by some 
sturdy member whose constituents had only re- 
turned him on condition that he should beefully 
resist any encroachment on their recreative rights 



252 

and privileges. No, bees love idleness as well as 
we do, and, depend upon it, they laugh in their 
sleeves — speaking figuratively, of course — at us 
for thinking otherwise. 

In front of the cottage the garden sloped down 
to a deep ravine, which cleft its way through the 
uplands north of St. Olave's, and stretched to the 
Wold-hills ten or twelve miles away. Great heavy 
masses of foliage, waving clusters of fern, and tall 
spikes of purple foxglove clothed the sides of this 
ravine, and at the bottom flowed the little river 
Luthen. Further up, amongst the hills where it 
had its rise, the Luthen was a brawling, trouble- 
some, ill -behaved stream, often falling into a terri- 
ble passion, and using very rough language to the 
rocks that reined it in, pouring out its ill-temper 
in sheets of white speckled foam, and almost tear- 
ing itself to pieces in its fury. Before it reached 
Norlands, however, these corrupt inclinations 
gradually subsided, and it only murmured forth an 
occasional grumble as a vexing boulder got into its 
way, or some rude overhanging bush kept the sun- 
shine from it. After passing the cottage it tamed 
down wonderfully, gradually widening and deepen- 
ing, until at last it flowed past the old houses of 



253 

St. Olave's as quiet and well-conducted a little 
river as even a Cathedral city need wish to over- 
shadow. 

The real village of Norlands — if village it might 
be called, where village there was none save half- 
a-dozen tumbledown houses, and a dilapidated 
pump — was about two miles farther on. Its 
ancient name was Moncaster, and it had been a 
Roman settlement. 

Part of their handiwork still remained in the 
shape of a multangular tower, built on the ledge 
of the ravine, and numerous fragments of red pot- 
tery, which, from time to time, stray travellers, or 
inquisitive antiquarians dug out from masses of su- 
perincumbent rubbish. Any other interest which 
the place had was derived from a tradition that Sir 
Walter Scott had chosen it as the scene of one of his 
most celebrated novels. This notion, whether cor- 
rect or not, brought many Scottish tourists to the 
place. But to return to the pic-nic. 

Of course there was a great turn-out of un- 
dress uniforms on the part of the ladies. Muslins 
were displayed of every tint and fashion, none so 
pretty, however, as Alice Grey's — that white one 
sprinkled with tiny green leaves, which has already 



254 st. olave's. 

been introduced to the reader in Mrs. Cromarty's 
clothes-basket — and hats varying in magnitude 
from the slightly elongated black velvet button, 
which surmounted the flaxen locks of Elene 
Somers, the Dean's youngest daughter, to Miss 
Luckie's huge brown cover-all, beneath whose 
spreading shade the merry little maiden-lady's 
grey curls frisked and fluttered like young swal- 
lows under a pent -house thatch. 

Mistress Amiel Grey's health had been failing for 
the last year, and she was no longer able to bear 
the excitement of many fresh faces, so Miss Luckie 
had come to lend a helping hand, and look after 
things in a general way. She was the handiest 
little body imaginable at a pic-nic. She knew 
everything that ought to be done, and the best 
way of doing it. She found out, as if by instinct, 
what people would like to sit next each other at 
dinner, and then, without anyone suspecting the 
device, contrived to bring them together. Also 
she carried under her brown tweed cloak, a courier 
bag, which seemed as productive as the wizard's 
inexhaustible bottle, and out of its close green lined 
depths, she was continually bringing a supply of 
those indispensable trifles which most people make 



255 

a point of forgetting at pic-nics. Was there a 
lamentable outcry for missing salt just as the cold 
chicken was carved round? — Miss Luckie was sure 
to have a little box-full at hand. Was there a 
frantic outcry for knives and forks? — " Oh ! I put 
two or three at the bottom of my satchel in case 
they might be wanted/' and forthwith things grew 
calm again. Did some unfortunate young lady 
rend her muslin dress half across the skirt ? — Miss 
Luckie had the daintiest little needle- book, with 
thimble, scissors, and thread, all complete, and her 
nimble fingers repaired the mischief. She had no 
end of funny stories if the conversation flagged ; 
reminiscences of barrack life which made people 
laugh until the tears ran down their cheeks ; inno- 
cent little jests and repartees wherewith to set the 
craft of conversation free again, when it was in 
danger of being stranded on the sands of dulness, 
or choked in the mud -banks of gossip. Added to 
this, she was purely unselfish, cared nothing about 
her own convenience, so long as other people 
were comfortable ; would shift here and there, sit 
anywhere or nowhere, turn out of her place at a 
moment's notice to give a pair of young lovers 
the chance of a tete-a-tete, and was tender as the 



256 st. olave's. 

most anxious mamma in the world in picking out 
sheltered sunshiny spots for delicate ladies who 
were " so apt to take cold." So [no wonder that 
Miss Luckie was in great request at pic-nics. 

The male sex was well represented on this occa- 
sion, remarkably so, in fact, for a place like St. 
Olave's, where whiskers were by no means so plen- 
tiful as crinoline, and the givers of evening enter- 
tainments were sorely perplexed in finding dress- 
coats to match the pyramids of tulle and tarlatan 
which floated through their sumptuous reception 
rooms. There were several undergraduates from 
Oxford and Cambridge, one or two young curates 
reading for orders, a sprinkling of professional 
men who were glad to get a turn out into the fresh 
air and sunshine, and a few officers from the 
barracks. 

As for the ladies, Elene Somers, the Dean's 
daughter, was there, and the Bishop's niece, a 
pleasant girl of eighteen. She was an object of 
great interest to the feminine part of the company 
on account of her face, which was universally pro- 
nounced beautiful, and to the gentlemen, by reason 
of her figure, she being heiress to a fortune of 
twenty thousand pounds. The Close families also 



257 

contributed their quota of guests, and some of the 
officers' wives were there ; bright, pleasant, intelli- 
gent women who acted as carbonate of soda to 
the exceedingly small-beer of St. Olave's society, 
frothing it up now and then into a state of whole- 
some effervescence, without which it would have 
become hopelessly flat, or possibly degenerated into 
irretrievable vinegar. 

Amongst this gay assemblage, the Westwood 
people felt ill at ease. Except by Miss Luckie, 
who had a bright smile and a pleasant word for 
every one, Janet and David Bruce were almost 
entirely unnoticed. It was one of Mrs EdenalFs 
quiet days, and she held herself apart from the rest, 
sometimes wandering alone up and down the shady 
alleys of the cottage garden, sometimes sitting on 
the edge of the ravine and gazing away to the little 
murmuring Luthen, which tracked its course over 
the rocks below. One or two of the military men, 
struck by the exceeding dignity and queenly bear- 
ing of the stranger, endeavoured to play the 
agreeable to her, but she met their advances with a 
c ool unconscious sort of indifference which speedily 
quenched the feeble spark of g dlantry. It was a 

vol. i. s 



258 st. olave's. 

question whether any of the Bruce party enjoyed 
the day very much. 

Alice noticed this, and after dinner, when most 
of the company had sauntered away by twos and 
threes into the woods, with the understanding that 
they were to return at six for coffee and a dance, 
she set off with Janet and David and Mrs. Edenall 
to the ruins. 

The road to Norlands — at least the usual foot- 
road — lay close along the edge of the ravine 
which bounded the cottage-garden. It was pass- 
able for horse and foot travellers only, for about 
half-way there had been a land-slip, and the earth 
had fallen away until only a few feet of road re- 
mained. The City Commissioners had often talked 
of having a rail put up, for the place was rather 
dangerous, even for horsemen, but up to the pre- 
sent time their councils had ended in talk and 
nothing more. When Alice and her companion 
reached this spot, they sat down to rest. 

The view from the land-slip at Norlands was 
very beautiful. Close behind the bank which they 
had chosen for their resting-place was a plantation 
of fir trees, stretching for nearly a mile in close 
compact phalanx, and then scattering over a rough 
heathy common. 



st. olave's. 259 

The sunlight was peering through it now, lying 
in golden patches amongst the fern and ivy, and 
toying playfully with the] flowers that trailed 
their white blossoms over the moss. Just at their 
feet the ravine sloped down with many a rift and 
break, many a chasm filled with bracken and 
golden gorse, many an outreaching hazel bush and 
miniature forest of purple foxglove, to the babbling 
Luthen hundreds of feet below. Westward and 
northward the Wold hills girded the horizon 
with a belt of undulating grey, and to the right 
framed in by the overhanging boughs of a great 
ash tree, the three towers of St. Olave's Cathedral 
showed their faint outline upon the clear sky. 

It might be something in the quiet beauty of 
the scene, or it might be Alice's frank winning 
way, but certainly Janet and David Bruce bright- 
ened up. Mrs. Edenall only remained cold as ever, 
with just the same fixed, proud look that had 
neither pain nor passion in it. 

" Davie," said Janet, " You will work better at 
your Oratorio now. I can fancy the memory of 
this picture finding its way out into a symphony 
or an overture." 

" Or weaving itself into one of those quiet rest- 

s 2 



260 st. olave's. 

ful chorales that come like a still small voice after 
the clash and tumult of the choruses. But Mr- 
Bruce/' said Alice, "I can't think why you 
should have chosen that wrathful cold-blooded crea- 
ture Jael, for your heroine. Surely you don't 
intent to accept her as your ideal of womanhood." 

" Jael was a grand woman, Miss Grey. She 
was the Joan of Arc of the Old Testament, and 
you have no business to say anything against 
her ! ' Blessed above women shall Jael, the wife 
of Heber the Kenite, be ! ' But I chose her more 
for the times in which she lived, than for herself; 
the history of the country just then was so grand 
and stirring. Besides Deborah is the more leading 
character in the Oratorio, though it bears Jael's 
name, and 1 hope you have nothing to say against 
Deborah." 

"No, I suppose sh^ was the type of a 
strong-minded female. I remember our Dean 
preached a sermon not long ago about her, in 
which he held her - up as a model for English- 
women." 

u And a noble model too ; just contrast her with 
the flounced and crinolined women of the present 
day." 



st. olave's. 261 

" She was an epitome of feminine virtue, 
no doubt/' said Alice, mischievously. " But how 
would you have liked her for a wife ? Try to 
fancy that now." 

David did fancy it, at least he attempted to do 
so, and was constrained to admit that the Hebrew 
prophetess would have been a serious undertaking, 
viewed matrimonially. 

" As we seem to have got into the subject, let 
us each choose our favourite woman character out 
of the Bible/' said Janet. " Miss Grey, you shall 
begin." 

Alice was not long in making up her mind. 

" Ruth is the most lovable creature I know in 
all the Bible. There was not a bit of what people 
call greatness about her /she was just true-hearted, 
faithful, and affectionate, and tried to make 
those about her as happy as she could. And it 
is my ideal of a real woman that there should be 
an influence of pleasantness and graciousness about 
her, a something which makes you feel comfortable 
and glad to have her near you. I would like very 
much to have had Ruth for a friend, but I can't 
say the same for Jael or Deborah." 

" Bravo," said Mrs. Edenall, half scornfully, 



262 

" and now will you let us have your ideal of a 
man V 

There was great bitterness,, a sort of veiled 
sarcasm in the manner of her speech, but Alice did 
not notice it, and spoke out frankly aud freely. 

" Yes, I can tell you that, too. A man should 
be grave, and steady, and trusty. I wouldn't care 
for his being very handsome, at least" — Alice 
paused awhile — "at least I think not, but he 
should be firm and quiet, and have a way about 
him that would make you feel it safe to get near 
him in a storm. Not very attractive either, some- 
thing like " 

" Like the cedar tree by the library window at 
the Old Lodge," said Miss Bruce, quietly. 

Alice's face grew red all over, and to hide her 
confusion she claimed Mrs. EdenalFs description 
of her favourite character. 

Mrs. Edenall was sitting just at the edge of the 
ravine, idly moving the loose pieces of gravel with 
her foot, and watching them as they rolled down 
the precipice. And her face all the while had a cold, 
weary, passionless look, like a picture from which 
the sunlight has faded out. She kept on loosening 
the stones and pushing them down, as she said in 
a low tone — 



st. olave's. 263 

u There is no woman so noble as Rizpah. There 
is nothing in the Old Testament grander than 
the picture of that lonely,, scathed, desolate crea- 
ture, keeping her solitary watch over those bleach- 
ing bones. I love the still undying intensity of 
her grief; it is very sublime. Destiny was too 
cruel to her, and she is so strong in her silence 
and her patience." 

Janet was the first to speak. 

"I am not sure whether to sit out on those 
rocks was the best thing she could have done 
I don't think God ever sends any sorrow to 
crush us entirely. So long as life lasts at all, 
there must be some sort of value in it not to be 
wasted." 

It was so like Janet Bruce to say this. 
Long ago in her heart, duty had battled with 
regret, and conquered it. She had let the grass 
grow over memory's old graves, and spoke of them 
never. How much wiser should we be if all could 
do the same. 

u Very correct," said Mrs. Edenall with a mock- 
ing ring in her voice which startled Alice, it 
was so harsh and untuneful. " I have no doubt you 
would have recommended Rizpah to pack away her 



264 st. olave's. 

bit of sackcloth and take a tract district, or help 
in the kitchen on baking morning. Some people 
think there is nothing so good for a wounded spirit 
as minding the oven and going to see sick 
people. But forgive me, Miss Bruce/' she said 
in a softened tone, " I had forgotten, will you 
tell us your character now V 

Janet was very slow to take offence. She 
never winced at Mrs. Edenall's words, and 
scarcely perceived the satire they contained. 
This quietness of spirit saved her many a wound. 
She replied in her usual gentle deliberate way, 

" I don't think any of you will quarrel with me 
for the possession of my heroine. It is only for 
one trait in her character that I love Vashti so 
much/'' 

" Vashti, Vashti ?" said Mrs. Edenall, her stock 
of Scripture lore was evidently not profound. 
" Ah, I remember ; she was the Persian queen 
who turned obstinate and refused to obey her lord's 
behests. Miss Bruce, you are the last person in 
the world I should have suspected of encouraging 
matrimonial rebellion." 

" I love her/' said Janet, " for her true dignity 
and modesty. I think the memory of that night, 



st. olave's. 265 

when at the risk of losing all, she refused to com- 
ply with the drunken curiosity of a set of libertine 
courtiers, would be such a grand thing for her to 
look back npon all her life. Ahasuerus might 
take away her crown of gold, but he could never 
rob her of that other crown of pure, stainless 
womanhood, so much nobler and brighter. I 
think."— 

"Stay, Miss Bruce," said Alice, springing 
from her seat on the bank by Janet's side, 
"Look at Mrs. Edenall !" 

There was need to look. Her face was deathly 
pale as one in a swoon. She had fallen helplessly 
forward, and only the slender stem of a birch tree 
which every moment kept swaying lower and lower 
with her weight, prevented her from falling down 
the ravine and being dashed to pieces on the 
rocks below. David Bruce started up, and lean- 
ing over the edge of the slope, lifted her from her 
perilous position. She seemed quite unconscious. 
He laid her down npon the grass, and they fanned 
her face. By-and-by she revived ; a vague gleam 
of returning intelligence passed across her face 
and slowly she raised herself. 

"Thank you," she said calmly, as soon 



266 

as she was able to speak. " I am sorry to 
have given you so much trouble. Most likely I 
turned faint with looking down that precipice ; it 
was foolish of me to have sat so long upon the 
brink." 

" Rest awhile on this bank/' said Alice, " whilst I 
run back to -the cottage and fetch you some wine. 
You look very white yet. I shall be back in a few 
minutes." 

" Not for the world. Indeed there is not the 
slightest need. If you will let us walk on now, 
the air will do me more good than anything 
else." And she began to tie on her bonnet and 
arrange her dress, with hands that scarcely trembled 
at all. The little weakness passed, all her rigid 
self-control returned, and she was Mrs. Edenall 
again, cold and still and stately. 

So they set forward. She and Janet walked 
on first, Janet taking care to keep her on 
that side of the path farthest away from the 
precipice. But a few yards after they passed the 
landslip, the road turned off into a lane which led 
them to the bleak common where the Tower 
stood. 

"We have not had your favourite character, 



267 

Mr. Bruce/' said Alice,, when they had gone a 
little way ; " we don't Avant to be disappointed, so 
you must get it ready." 

" I have my ideal/' David replied, " and 
some of these days I will tell you it." 

" But now/' persisted Alice, " now, why not 
tell us it just now ?" 

Instead of answering her, he turned the conver- 
sation into another channel, and kept her talking 
about different matters until they reached Nor- 
lands. 

The Roman Tower, though famous, was not 
exactly to be called beautiful. It was very un- 
like those picturesque old abbeys and monasteries 
whose ruins give such distinctiveness to many an 
English landscape. No green and clasping ivy 
twined it round; no fragments of tracery, no 
clustered columns, no richly-pierced and mul- 
lioned windows told their story of glory past, or 
brought back the olden times of cloistered piety. 
Moncaster Tower was just an empty shell of 
mason work, without the slightest attempt at 
ornament, built partly of concrete, and partly of 
those flat red tile-like bricks which the old Romans 
used in the erection of their forts. It was just 



268 

on the verge of the ravine, and from one side of it 
southwards stretched a thick solid wall, parts of 
which had been traced for at least half a mile. 

The inside was overgrown with grass and weeds. 
A few stone coffins, that had been dug up in the 
neighbourhood, were lying about near the en- 
trance, forming water-troughs, to which the 
cattle from the common came and slaked their 
thirst. In the loopholes, and all amongst the 
crevices of the stone, moss and grey lichen had 
sprung up, with here and there a yellow wall- 
flower or a tuft of stunted foxglove. A ledge, 
about two feet wide, ran round the top, reached 
by a wooden stair, built about a hundred years 
ago. From this ledge, for those who were 
venturesome enough to climb it, a splendid out- 
look might be obtained over the city of St. Olave's 
and the richly wooded vale of the Luthen. 

For awhile, the party sauntered about inside 
the tower, and then Alice proposed that they 
should climb the stair. 

" Leave me behind, then," said Mrs. Eden- 
all, " and I will wait for you down here. I 
don't think I could bear to stand on that ledge 
just now." So they left her. 



269 

" We won't be more than a quarter of an hour/' 
said Alice, as she gathered up her dress and pre- 
pared to ascend the black, mildewed old steps. " I 
hope the Roman ghosts won't come out of their 
graves and do you any harm. But if you want 
us to come down, you have only to call, and we 
shall hear you ; there is such a splendid echo here. 
Listen now, what is your name V 

" Marian." 

Alice called it out loud. A moment passed. 
Then, from far away over the ravine it came 
back in a soft, tender, whispered sound — 
" Marian." 

Mrs. Edenall started as though some one had 
indeed called her. For so long that old familiar 
name had been left unspoken. When and where 
had she heard it last ? She shivered, and then 
passed it off with a light laugh. 

" Don't let me keep you any longer now," she 
said, " I am not afraid of ghosts, at least these 
Roman ghosts of yours. And there is no need 
for you to hurry. I can bear to be left alone." 

When they were gone, she walked listlessly 
round the inside of the tower, sometimes striking 
off with her parasol the heads of the great yellow 



270 st. olave's. 

dandelions that shot np amongst the grass, some- 
times gathering daisies and pulling off one by one 
their crimson-tipped leaves, while she repeated the 
words " He loves me, he loves me not/' and as 
blossom after blossom gave with its last leaflet the 
words " he loves me/' there came into her face a 
glad quiet look, the far-off reflection of a sunshine 
that was not yet quite gone. When she was tired 
of this, she sat down on a stone coffin, and leaning 
her elbows on her knees and her head on her hands, 
she seemed to fall into a reverie. 

Close by her side was another coffin, a very tiny 
one, scarce three feet long. It was a baby's coffin. 
Over it, hundreds and hundreds of years ago, some 
Roman matron had wept bitter burning tears as 
she laid away her darling into its stony grasp. 
Only the dews of heaven fell upon it now, and a 
few withered last year's leaves had drifted into the 
hollow where once the baby head had lain. Mrs. 
Edenall stooped over it with tender woman -like 
pitifulness. Did any child's face, wearing her own 
look upon it and smiling once with the life that 
she had given it, rest now beneath the sod ? For, 
as she measured the little death-cradle with her 
long thin fingers, she murmured very gently, 



271 

" Dead, long ago, dead ! But it is better so. 
There could have been no rest for her. He would 
never have loved her, never at all." 

She was yet musing over the life that had 
been quenched hundreds of years gone by, or 
that for which the tears were scarcely yet dry and 
whose memory was still warm and fresh, when 
Alice's merry laugh came rippling down with the 
wind that swirled through the arrow slits of the 
old tower. The soft light died off from Mrs. 
EdenalFs face, into it there came again the cold 
steady expression which overlaid her real soul 
like a mask. 

" It's a rare outlook," said Janet, who came down 
first. " The country side looks £0 rich and golden 
in this autumn light. I was just vexed you did 
not come with us. But some day, when you are 
quite strong again, we will come and see it. You 
have not wearied for us, have you ? We staid longer 
than I expected, but it was so beautiful." 

" No ; this is not a wearisome place to wait in. 
You might have stayed much longer if you wished. 
These old ruins give one a restful feel ; they 
seem to have done with life and all its toil." 

" Ah, then you are fond of ruins," said Alice. 



272 

" I am glad I thought of bringing you here, and the 
old Roman ghosts that they say haunt this place 
have not meddled with you whilst we have been 
away V 

Pain and pleasure mingled on Mrs. EdenalFs 
face as she said : — 

"No spirits have come to me this afternoon, 
but those I could wish to meet again." 

" Some people don't like to come here/' Alice 
continued, wiping from her muslin dress some of 
the dust and mildew which it had gathered upon 
the broken stair, " the place has such an eerie feel, 
and often towards evening the owls hoot so that 
we can hear them almost as far as the Cottage. I 
suppose such things don't frighten you, though. I 
should like to take you to another tower about a 
mile further on ; but it grows late and Miss Luckie 
will think us long. We won't go home by the 
landslip this time though." 

' ' No, not there again," and Janet Bruce shud- 
dered. But Mrs. Edenall's face never changed. 
Still with a sort of fascination it was turned to- 
wards the little baby coffin. 

" There are two other roads that will take us 
home," said Alice, " one along the turnpike, but 



273 

we shall meet all the harvest people coining home 
by it, for it is the shortest, the other leads through 
the corn-fields about a quarter of a mile round ; 
which way would you like best, Mrs. Edenall T 3 

"The corn-fields by all means," said Mrs 
Edenall, with something like a curl on her lip, 
" and then we can meditate by the way on your 
model of womanhood." 

They went down a little lane, out of which a 
barred gate led them into the fields. After that 
they had nothing to do but follow the track through 
the corn, that stretched over field after field 
until it reached the high-road, only a few yards 
from Norland's cottage. 

Janet and Mrs. Edenall walked on first, Alice 
and David Bruce followed, gradually falling further 
and further back, for she loitered often to pluck 
the wild flowers and weave them into a posy. 
David employed himself in the apostolic fashion, 
plucking the ears of corn and rubbing them in 
his hand as he went. Alice was in one of her 
lively moods. The shy feeling that used some- 
times to come over her in Mr. Bruce' s presence 
had quite passed away, and she chatted to him in 
her frank graceful way, just talking out as it were 

VOL. i. t 



274 st. olave's. 

the chance thoughts which went floating through 
her mind. ^Innocent thoughts they were, like 
the young girl herself, not brilliant, not remarkably 
original, and certainly not characterized by unusual 
profundity or strength. 

And yet it pleased David Bruce to listen to 
them ; pleased him more perhaps than if they had 
been profound in catechisms and encyclopaedic lore 
or sparkling with poetic grace, or lit with the fire 
of grand enthusiasm. That talk with Alice Grey 
in the corn-fields lingered longer in his memory, 
and left a pleasanter fragrance there, than many a 
one which in after years, when he became a man 
of note, he was privileged to hold with the wits 
and queens of London drawing-rooms. 

After all, girls mistake when they think that 
elaborate conversation enhances their charms, and 
recommends them to those whose favour they 
seek. For the most part men care little for 
genius, or poetry, or enthusiasm ; still less for 
feminine epitomes of science, and walking manuals 
of useful information. What they want in a 
woman is rest and quietness, perhaps also a never- 
failing willingness to acknowledge their own 
superiority. She must be content to glow, not 



275 

sparkle. She must cover the flame of her intellect, 
if she have any, with the ground-glass of humility 
and modesty; otherwise, like the glare of an 
unshaded lamp, it will first dazzle and then weary. 
Far more than any genius, or powerful range of 
thought, they value in a woman friend what Alice 
described as an " influence of pleasantness and 
graciousness, a something which makes you glad 
to have her near you." And she is the truest wo- 
man, not she who has amassed the most knowledge 
or cultivated the most enthusiasm, not she who can 
hold the toughest argument and wield the 
weapons of logic most deftly, but she who has won 
this God-given grace of meekness and quietness, 
who has put on over all other virtues this calm, 
sweet loving-kindness which makes her presence 
a benediction, and her influence an unspoken 
prayer. If only there were more such women. 

Perhaps it was from a reverie in which he had 
been thinking some such thoughts as these that 
Alice roused David Bruce, by saying to him : — 

" Your favourite character, Mr. Bruce. Come 
tell me it now ; perhaps I shall forget to ask you 
again, and I want very much to know. Is it 
Jael cr Deborah V* 

t2 



276 

David paused and smiled, that strange, quiet 
smile which came so seldom over his rugged 
face. It was like the rare flush of sunset on 
the old Cathedral front, gone in a moment, but 
unforgotten for a life- time. All around them was 
the yellow corn, swaying hither and thither as 
the evening wind swept over it. He plucked a 
few ears, and taking off Alice's hat, wove them in 
and out among her curls. 

Truly she made a very pretty Ruth, a very 
modest one too, as she stood there with down- 
cast eyes, and the rosy colour flitting over her 
face. When David had crowned the sunny 
ringlets with this garland, he looked at her long 
and earnestly, and then said : — 

" This is my ideal." 

With one quick upward glance she understood 
his meaning, and then her head drooped lower 
and lower ; but she said nothing, she could only 
play nervously with the wild flowers she held 
in her hand. He said nothing either, and so 
for some minutes they stood in perfect silence. 

Alice Grey was accustomed to pretty speeches. 
Ever since she could know their worth or worth- 
lessness, they had been scattered round her 



st. olave's. 277 

thickly as the red leaves in autumn time. But 
she felt that this had a deeper meaning than the 
idle compliments she was used to hear. It 
woke a strange, new feeling in her heart, a 
feeling for which she could find no name. She 
could not prattle on now in her gay, 
careless way. Almost she wished he had not 
spoken to her so. And yet that she had 
pleased him at all, that there was anything in 
her which he, this rock-like David Bruce — 
this man whom she reverenced so much, could 
admire and care for, made her feel very glad. 
Alice just lived for the affection of those she 
loved, and any praise from them was passing sweet. 

" Let us go," she said, shyly ; " Miss Bruce is 
such a long way before us now/' 

"Yes," he said, and led the way, without 
speaking another word. She thought he looked 
grander and nobler than ever, pacing along 
before her, and a sort of dim childish fear of 
him stole into her heart. She dare not walk by 
his side any longer, and crept behind him, just 
glancing up to him now and then, and watching 
the majestic sway of his figure as he strode 
through the corn track* 



278 st. olave's. 

They came to the little gate which led out into 
the high road. David Bruce turned round,, and 
with a face utterly grave and quiet, took out 
the wheat ears from her hair. He was going to 
throw them back into the field, but she asked 
for them. 

Without a word, he gave them to her, and she 
kept them carefully in her hand. After a while, 
she put them under her cloak — somehow, she did 
not want him to see that she was taking care of 
them. But he seemed to take no notice of her as 
he walked along, with folded arms and face towards 
the ground. Those wheat ears were the first relics 
Alice had ever possessed. They were the wave- 
sheaf of a harvest of joy or sorrow, which? — that 
should come to her ere long. They were the first 
of the little beads that cluster so fast with the 
thickening years on memory's rosary, and over 
which, perhaps, in time to come, she might say 
Aves of remembrance as pitiful and as profitless 
as those which sorrow -laden devotees murmur 
before the shrines of patron saints. 



279 




CHAPTER XVII. 

UT, of this latter contingency, Alice 
never thought. It was her way to 
take the joy that came to her without 
an onward glance. She had not yet reached 
that stage when life becomes a composite thing, 
and doubt for the future or regret for the past, 
mingles largely with any scheme of present gladness. 
Almost as soon as they turned into the high 
road, the sound of merry music came floating to 
them from the distance ; and when they reached 
the cottage garden, the groups of dancers were 
already busy over their graceful sports. 

" Oh, I must go and join theni/' said Alice, 
< ( I promised Captain Madden a quadrille before 
we went out, and I have never thought of it once 



280 

since. You and Miss Bruce and Mrs. Edenall 
shall go in and rest, for/' she added, with a 
roguish glance towards the stranger lady, " I 
know Mrs. Edenall does not care for watching 
the evolutions of the St. Olave's animalculae." 

So the Westwood people went into the old- 
fashioned little front parlour, where Miss Luckie, 
who was sitting in the window-seat with her knit- 
ting, soon engaged them in a vigorous conversa- 
tion. And Alice, who had no more conscience of 
weariness than an India-rubber ball, and to whom^ 
after the slight restraint of David's presence was 
removed, all her old gay-heartedness had come 
back, fluttered away to fulfil her engagement with 
Captain Madden. 

The dancing was to be the finale of the enter- 
tainment, and it did not continue long. The dew 
was already falling, and the wind whistling coldly 
through the fir-tree wood, when the last quadrille 
came to a conclusion. Then there was a call for 
plaids, carriage-rugs, and mantles, and the party 
broke up. Some of the romantic ones walked 
down the river side to a little boat-house about a 
mile away, and did the rest of the journey by 
water to the accompaniment of flutes and concer- 



st. olave's. 281 

tinas, which had been brought for that purpose. 
One or two of the couples, anxious to prolong the 
sweet pleasure of what, to them, had been a red- 
letter day, returned to St. Olave's by Norlands 
lane, and through the plantation; and those of 
the Close families who had honoured the assembly 
with their presence, were driven home discreetly 
in private carriages. Before seven o' clock all the 
visitors, except the Bruces and Mrs. Edenall, had 
taken their departure. 

It had been arranged that they were to walk 
home, and then Miss Luckie, who stayed to 
straighten things up a little, was to drive Alice 
home in the basket carriage, which would only 
hold two. But Miss Luckie had got into an 
interesting disquisition with Janet about the best 
modes of managing their respective tract districts, 
and when the time for parting came, she was so 
unwilling to discontinue the argument, that she 
proposed to walk home with Janet and turn over 
her office of charioteer to David Bruce, who was 
quite ready to aecept it. So things were arranged 
to the complete satisfaction of all parties. 

" He's frisky, sir, to-night, is Benjie," said 
Colin, the little stable-boy, as he gave David the 



282 st. olave's. 

whip and reins. " He's allers sort o' marraclous 
when he's been havin' a good feed 'n a long rest. 
You mun keep a tight hand on him, sir, or he'll 
spill you." 

" Not as it would he much matter, sir/'' con- 
tinued the lad, " 'cause you see t' carriage is nob- 
but low, and he's spilled it so often, while it knows 
all about it. Now then, Benjie, whoop, boy, and 
mind your manners," and with this parting in- 
junction to the obstreperous little pony, Colin led 
the carriage out into the yard and then stood at 
the gate watching them down the road. 

The beauty of the day was gone. The grey mist 
from the river came creeping slowly up the sides 
of the ravine, and curling over the garden and 
meadows beyond. The wind cut with a sharp 
whistling sound through the black pine-trees that 
skirted the Norlands road. The sky was yet 
clear, but the sun was setting behind a bank of 
yellow, watery-looking clouds, which betokened 
rain ere long, and heavy rain, too. 

As soon as they were on the broad high road, 
Benjie set to work and went through his evolu- 
tions. Very deftly he did them, too. One might 
have thought that he had been accustomed to per- 



st. olave's. £83 

form at circuses and country fairs, and received 
his equine training from clowns and mountebanks 
instead of having been brought up in a sober, well- 
conducted Cathedral city like St. Olave's. He 
commenced by standing on his hind legs and wav- 
ing the two others with vigorous declamatory 
motion as if addressing a company of electors from 
the hustings. Then he reversed the attitude, to 
the imminent risk of the fore-part of the carnage; 
next he went through a very graceful pas-de-seul 
on the smooth, well-kept road, and concluded the 
performance by careering frantically onward for 
about a quarter of a mile, and then running up 
against a grassy bank, where he verified Colin's 
prediction, and " spilt " his load. This done, he 
stood quietly enough, evidently quite satisfied with 
the result of his proceedings. 

Alice was neither hurt nor frightened. She 
only shook herself, and began to laugh heartily at 
the ludicrous termination of their ride. She 
stopped, however, when she saw David Bruce lean- 
ing against the bank with a face somewhat paler 
than its wont. 

" Oh, Mr. Bruce, you are hurt ! I am so sorry. 
What is the matter V and she sprang to his side. 



284 st. olave's. 

"Nothing very much. I have sprained my 
right wrist, and something is amiss with my 
shoulder. But I was thinking how we are to get 
home. I can't hold the reins myself now, and I 
am afraid it wouldn't be safe for you to attempt 
to drive Benjie in his frisky humour." 

" Oh, no, I couldn't drive him even if he were 
as quiet as a lamb. I never learned to manage a 
pony." 

"How far are we from the cottage ? scarcely 
half a mile, I suppose ?" 

' ' About that, I should think ; not more at any 
rate." 

" Then perhaps the best thing we can do will be 
to lead Benjie back. I can manage to do that 
with my left hand. Then Colin will drive you 
home, and I will walk." 

"No Mr. Bruce, indeed you shall not do that. 
And yet I'm sure I don't know how we can 
manage." 

" If Miss Grey will allow me, I shall consider 
it a great pleasure to escort her home to the Old 
Lodge." 

Alice started j she recognized that voice. Few 
indeed who had once heard its tones soon forgot 



st. olave's. 285 

them. It was the same voice she had heard at 
the Minster a few weeks ago. Turning quickly 
round, she found that the speaker was a stylish, 
elegant-looking young man. Not in clerical 
costume though. Except on Sundays, it was 
fashionable for the more ambitious sprigs of the 
church to don their canonicals over fancy vests 
and cut-away coats, instead of the orthodox 
black raiment and cravat of spotless white to 
which the older clergy adhered. 

" I have not had the honour of a formal intro- 
duction to Miss Grey/' he continued, as Alice 
turned her fair young face, somewhat flushed now, 
towards him. " But you may possibly have 
heard my aunt at Chapter Court speak of her ne- 
phew, Cuthbert Scrymgeour," and as he said this 
he presented his card. 

Alice received it very courteously. She had 
that natural politeness that always enables its 
possessor to say the right thing in the right place ; 
and mingling with all her girlish frankness, was 
that grace of quiet self-possession that makes 
the genuine lady. Then perceiving that all this 
time the new-comer had taken no notice of her 
companion, she introduced Mr. Bruce. 



286 ST. olave's. 

The Rev. Cuthbert Scrynigeour performed his 
part of the ceremony prescribed by etiquette as 
stiffly as possible, and with that air of manifest 
patronage which was usually assumed by the 
scions of the Close families when extending the 
rites of politeness to undistinguished persons. As 
soon as the introduction was over, he walked away 
to examine the carriage. 

"What must I do, Mr. Bruce?" said Alice 
when he was gone. " I do not want to leave you." 

David thanked her with a single look, but his 
voice was quiet and business-like, perhaps a shade 
colder than before the stranger turned up. 

"Never mind me, Alice; perhaps you had better 
ride with Mr. Scrymgeour, as your aunt will begin 
to be anxious about you." 

** But you, Mr. Bruce, I am sure that arm of 
your's is very painful, and the road is so long for 
you to walk to St. Olave's. Will you go back to 
the cottage? Mrs. Cromarty will soon make a 
room ready for you, and I will send a message 
down to Westwood to say that you cannot return 
to-night. Do stay, will you ?" 

That half-wistful, half-anxious expression stealing 
up into her face, made her look so good and kind, 



287 

David Bruce hesitated. It was hard to let her 
leave him and go away with this stranger. But 
there was no other way. 

u You are very good, Alice/' he said at last, 
" but Janet will think something terrible has 
happened if I do not get home. A message would 
scarcely satisfy her. Don't trouble yourself about 
me, I shall manage somehow." 

And yet the thought that she had troubled her- 
self about him was worth a good deal of pain- 
But whilst she yet lingered, as if unwilling to go 
away from him, Mr. Scrymgeour came up to 
them again. 

" Allow me to hand you into the carriage. The 
pony appears very quiet now, and I do not think 
you need be in the slightest degree alarmed. 

Was ever any music like that voice ? Who 
could listen to the melody of its tones and 
refuse compliance to anything it requested ? Not 
Alice Grey. 

' f This — this person will follow on foot, I presume, 
Miss Grey ; we need not wait any longer." 

Alice coloured. " Yes, I suppose we may start 
now." She turned and whispered a good-bye to 
the " person ;" then Mr. Scrymgeour put her arm 



288 st. olave's-. 

in his and led her to the carriage. He assisted 
her to her seat with all the grace of an accom- 
plished cavalier, and off they drove, leaving 
David Bruce still very pale and weary leaning 
against the bank. 

Benjie had had enough of play for that night at 
any rate, and performed the remainder of the journey 
with a sobriety which would have done credit to 
the woolsack. At first Alice often turned back 
to look at David. He was following them now 
with slow uncertain steps, very different to that 
steady tramp with which he had gone through the 
corn-fields an hour ago. Alice's kind little heart 
was grieved for him, but it was too late to make 
any alteration, or she would gladly have walked 
by his side. At last a sudden turn in the road 
quite hid him from her sight, and then she began 
to take a more leisurely survey of the new pro- 
tector upon whose gallant offices she had been so 
unexpectedly thrown. 

At first she only stole shy little glances at him, 
as was her wont with strangers, but by-and-by as 
she got into more familiar conversation, she dared 
to look him full in the face ; and when she had 
once looked she looked again and again, as indeed 



st. olave's. 289 

most people did who had the chance of sitting side 
by side with Cuthbert Scrymgeour. 

He was the sort of man whose portrait would 
make young ladies cry out in an extasy — " Oh, 
how handsome ! how very fascinating ! what a 
noble bearing ! what a distinguished presence V 
He had a well-shaped head, over which the dark 
brown locks curled as gracefully as acanthus leaves 
round a Greek capital. His features were regular, 
perfectly so, and very beautifully chiselled, of 
that clear, well-defined type familiar to the fre- 
quenters of Rotten Row and Belgravia. It was 
a face which a photographer in these days would 
covet for a carte de visite, or an artist for an 
Academy picture. The only element it lacked 
was power. It was not the index of a character 
that would either do or endure any great thing. 
You might expect from the man exquisite taste, 
love of everything dainty or pretty, exactness in 
all that he did — from the buying of a neck-tie to 
the choosing of a wife. A physiognomist would 
guess too that in either case beauty and elegance 
would sway his selection ; perhaps in the latter 
bargain something more solid than either of these, 
for Cuthbert had the hooked nose, and somewhat 

VOL I. U 



290 

keen hawk -like glance of the eye, which is usually 
supposed to accompany a judicious respect for the 
circulating medium. 

But unexceptionable as was Mr. Scrymgeour's 
face, his glory resided without question in the hir- 
sute appendages which decorated the lower portion 
of it. These certainly were very beautiful, quite 
as " marraclous/'' only in a different line, as Benjie's 
recent exploits. They were of a little lighter 
shade than the rest of his hair, and descended in a 
soft, waving, glossy cataract of at least six inches 
perpendicular fall on each side of the well-formed, 
though somewhat diminutive chin. 

Those whiskers were fascinating; they were 
more, they were irresistible, at least to any one of 
ordinary human susceptibilities. They had been 
the envy of half his fellow-students at College, and 
had hopelessly entangled in their golden meshes 
the wandering affections of, we are afraid to say how 
many forlorn maidens. Possibly also their exceed- 
ing luxuriance might compensate for the lack of 
internal qualifications, for surely the upper stories 
of the brain needed but little furniture when the 
basement was so sumptuously adorned. 

Alice soon found a great difference between her 



291 

new cavalier and Mr. Bruce, in the matter of those 
polite little attentions which some men offer with 
such exquisite grace and tact. David made smal . 
show of solicitude in his manner towards her. 
When they first got into the carriage he had just 
fastened his cloak round her with one decisive 
wrap, and taken care that her feet were well folded 
up in the fur lined rug \ and then cautioning her 
that the air was damp and she must keep her 
mouth shut, he had left her almost entirely to her 
own meditations. 

Mr. Scrymgeour was full of tender little assidui- 
ties. Was Miss Grey quite comfortable ? Were 
the cushions properly adjusted ? Did the cloak 
protect Uer throat sufficiently, and would she 
allow him to wrap it more closely round her ? 
which operation he performed with elaborate 
politeness. Were her feet quite warm, or might 
he have the pleasure of getting another rug from 
the bottom of the carriage ? Was he driving the 
pony at the pace most exactly suited to her con- 
venience ? — and so on, and so forth. 

Most young ladies — the pretty ones especially, 
perhaps others cannot speak from experience — are 
very fond of these and similar little attentions. 

u 2 



292 st. olave's. 

They find it pleasant to be waited on hand and 
foot, to have all their dainty wants forestalled, all 
their pretty little whims and fancies attended to 
with solicitous deference. At home they like their 
attendant squires to be very alert and watchful in 
opening doors, picking up handkerchiefs, filling 
tea-pots, handing books, and helping them in all 
sorts of needless ways. Abroad, they exact un- 
remitting gallantry, and delight to receive from 
those who escort them to promenades and con- 
certs as much care as a nursery-maid wtfuld need 
to bestow on a detachment of babies. It is just 
what they feed upon, this idle, empty homage ; it 
stands to them in the place of real true affection, 
and they never look onward to the surely coming 
time when it will altogether cease to be offered, or 
be offered only with constraint and weariness. 

There are others again who feel themselves an- 
noyed and pestered by this small coin of love. It 
worries them to be " pottered after," and waited 
on. It is by no means essential to their happi- 
ness that the fortunate possessors of their affec- 
tions should be always at hand to open doors and 
pick up thimbles and attend with dutiful devotion 
all their feminine behests. Strong, quiet, steady 



st. olave's. 293 

love given, all the rest may go. This to rely upon 
and look np to, they are content to wait upon 
themselves like ordinary mortals, and give up the 
charming dependence that, at the first, was 
so fascinating, but which, by-and-by, to those who 
have to support it, becomes a slight bore. 

Alice was not exigeante in her demands upon 
the courtesy of others. She had certainly been 
accustomed to flattery and compliment, but if 
need be she could do very well without either. 
David 'Bruce's calm, undemonstrative, almost 
careless manner, had not offended her in the least, 
but still Mr. Scrymgeour's graceful and winning 
politeness contrasted favourably with it. It 
pleased her to know that she was cared for and 
looked after. His countless little attentions did 
not worry her ; on the contrary, she rather enjoyed 
them, and they were received with that half shy, 
pleased sort of consciousness, which was the best 
compliment she could have paid to the giver. So 
that, on the whole, the ride home from Norlands, 
after David Bruce had so unexpectedly slipped 
off the scene, was much more successful than 
might have been expected. 

Alice and Mr. Scrymgeour soon glided into a 



294 

harmless little babble of conversation. He was an 
adept in the art of making himself agreeable. He 
had that rare indescribable tact which perceives 
at once little weaknesses of character and adapts 
itself to them. He never failed to make people 
pleased with themselves, and then it followed as a 
natural consequence that they were pleased with 
him. It was this almost woman-like perception, 
seizing at once and availing itself of every varying 
shade of character, that made Cuthbert Scrym- 
geour such a charming companion, and forced 
almost every man and woman upon whom he 
exerted his conversational powers to yield to their 
irresistible fascination. 

" I remember you very well," said Alice, after 
they had driven about half a mile, " I remember 
you very well, though I have never seen you before. 
I heard you read morning prayers at the Cathedral 
a few weeks ago." 

Mr. Scrymgeour turned and looked down into 
her face with real honest pleasure. A different 
expression, very different from the shallow phos- 
phorescent smile which habitually gleamed over 
his fine features, came into them now. It was a 
bit of the real man peering through the blinding 



st. olave's. 295 

veil of conventionality. There was nattered vanity 
in the countenance that bent over Alice, and 
pleased surprise in the rich tones of his voice, as 
he said — 

" Ah ! do you indeed remember me ? It is 
very pleasant to be remembered." 

Yes, it is. Without doubt, there is something 
very enjoyable in being told by a young and in- 
teresting girl whom you have never seen before, 
that she remembers you, especially if that remem- 
brance rests upon some superiority, real or fancied. 
The wisest man in Christendom would be pleased 
if the stranger lady whom he is escorting to supper 
should chance to inform him that she had seen 
him, perhaps years and years ago, and that he had 
had a place in her memory ever since. The men- 
tion of the fact would doubtless produce a pleasant 
sensation in that brain district where the bump of 
Approbativeness is located. Now, Cuthbert Scrym- 
geour was not the wisest man in Christendom, 
very far from it ; but still the phrenological organ, 
No. 12, was largely developed in his cerebral anatomy, 
and produced corresponding results in his cha- 
racter. If there was one personal qualification 
more than another — except, of course, the 



296 st. olave's. 

whiskers — upon which Mr. Scrymgeour prided 
himself, and concerning which he was open to a 
little judicious admiration, it was this voice of his, 
this fine, rich, exquisitely modulated voice, that 
had been trained under the best professors of elo- 
cution that Oxford could produce, and cultivated 
with an industry far exceeding in patience any 
which its possessor had thought fit to bestow on 
Latin Fathers and Greek Testaments. Alice had 
unconsciously touched the right chord ; she could 
not have done it more effectually had she been a 
veritable Talleyrand in her discernment of 
character. 

" You have the advantage of me," he said. " I 
don't recollect having seen you before ; and," he 
added, with a graceful bow, " I should surely no 
forget so sweet a face." 

Except for a slight blush, Alice ignored this 
passing compliment. 

tc You would not see me. I was sitting " — she 
was going to say in the organ gallery with David 
Bruce ; but checked herself, and said, instead — 
" I was where you could not see me." 

" Oh, yes, I understand. In some of those 
seats behind the Episcopal throne most likely. I 



st. olave's. 297 

sometimes go there myself, and then I can slip out 
when the anthem is over. It's such a nuisance, 
you know, having to stay all the service, when the 
music is the only thing you care for." 

Alice was so accustomed to hear the Cathedral 
prayers spoken of as merely subsidiary to the 
music, that the remark did not appear irreverent. 
After this propitious commencement, the conversa- 
tion prospered exceedingly. Alice told her com- 
panion all about the pic-nic, the walk to Norlands, 
the dance in the evening. She wished that she had 
known he was staying in Chapter Court, and then 
Aunt Amiel would have asked him to join their 
party, and it would have been so nice. 

To which piece of information, given in Alice's 
fresh innocent manner, so different from the deport- 
ment of most of the St. Olave's young ladies, who 
invariably spoke to a member of the opposite sex 
as if they were addressing a gorilla, Mr. Scrym- 
geour could not help replying that a day at Nor- 
lands with Miss Grey and her friends would 
indeed have been a sunny spot in memory's land- 
scape ; but he hoped another year the Fates would 
be more propitious, and not debar him from so rare 
a felicity ; — with a great deal more to the same 



298 

effect. Mr. Scrymgeour had such exquisite 
grace in expressing the airy nothings of polite- 
ness. 

And so the time wore on, not heavily at all. 
Indeed Alice was quite surprised when, looking up, 
the grey west front of the Minster was close upon 
them, and the gables of the Old Lodge peering 
through the twilight. It had seemed such a short 
hour. Of course it was only the most natural thing 
in the world that after he had given the pony and 
carriage into the care of the man who had come 
to meet them, Mr. Scrymgeour should walk to the 
front door with Alice, and see her safely in. And 
then as they were waiting in the porch, the rain 
which had been dropping at intervals for the last 
half-hour, began to come down in right good ear- 
nest, and it seemed nothing more than kind that 
Alice should ask him to wait until the storm was 
over. 

Mr. Scrymgeour readily accepted the invitation ; 
he was well practised in that part of the code of 
etiquette which forbids bashfulness and mauvaise 
honte. Indeed, apart from any hospitality that 
it might furnish, most strangers were glad to get 
a glimpse of the interior of the storied old 



st. olave's. 299 

mansion. Alice took him through the wide 
hall, with its black oak panellings and carved 
ceilings, into the oriel room, where a pleasant fire 
was burning. They scarcely ever gave up fires at 
the Old Lodge. 

" Aunt Amiel," she said, " this is Mr. Cuthbert 
Scrymgeour, the nephew of Mrs. Archdeacon 
Scrymgeour." 

Mistress Amiel Grey rose to receive him with 
that grave courtly dignity which, spite of age and 
infirmity, still lingered in every movement of hers. 
Alice might have noticed, had she been so disposed, 
that he did not hurry forward as David Bruce 
once did, to prevent the aged gentlewoman from 
standing in his presence. But she did not 
notice it. 

u Mr. Scrymgeour was kind enough to bring me 
home from Norlands," she continued. " You 
know I was to have come with Miss Luckie, but 
she walked on with Mrs. Edenall, and Mr. Bruce 
and I set off together. Before we got half way, 
Benjie turned frisky and upset us both on a 
grassy bank." 

" But it didn't do us any harm, though," said 
Alice, seeing that Aunt Amiel was looking 



300 

anxious; and then in her straightforward frank 
way, she told the whole story of Mr. Cuthbert 
Serymgeour's timely appearance, and the ride 
home. 

They seated themselves round the blazing fire, 
and seemed likely to spend a long evening there, 
for the rain splashed furiously down the wide open 
chimney, and the wind had risen to a tempest, 
beating the branches of the trees against the 
window, and driving with keen eerie wail through 
the belfry tower of the Cathedral. Strange, that 
Alice never wondered how David Bruce fared 
amidst it all. But girls so soon forget. 

It is well for our love, though uot always safe 
for our happiness, that we only know our friends 
as they are seen by us, and not as others see 
them. Could David Bruce have watched Alice as 
she sat there in the flashing firelight, shaking the 
meaningless rattle of chit-chat, and exchanging 
merry jests and repartees with her new companion, 
he would have been sorely grieved. The sight of 
her would have marred the beautiful ideal of 
womanhood, into which, for him, she was passing, 
and perhaps broken the spell that she was slowly 
weaving around him. 



301 

Yet Alice Grey was neither false nor fickle. 
She was simply impressible, very impressible. 
She just reflected, as in a mirror, the characters 
of those with whom s*he came in contact. She 
was just what others made her. With the light- 
hearted she was gay and thoughtless ; in the com- 
panionship of noble minds, she was quiet and 
subdued. She drifted along with the mental air- 
currents which overpast her. She had as yet no 
settled anchorage, no spiritual stand-point upon 
which she could rest and be quiet. 

Some people have an intense, steady, unchange- 
able individuality about them. Once having seen 
them, you always know where to find them again, 
and what to expect from them. Such people 
mould circumstances, instead of being moulded 
by them. Underlying the infinite variety and 
richness of their characters, there is one true, firm, 
rock-like principle, which supports the whole life 
of thought and action. God seems to have fash- 
ioned them as He fashions rose and jasmin 
flowers, which, whether planted in the fresh air 
and unclouded sunshine of Italian gardens, nor pent 
up in the stifled atmosphere, and compelled to live 
in the foul miasma of London garrets, do still 



302 

gather out from these diverse influences the same 
result of rich colour and fragrance. Put some 
characters where you will, bring them under any 
conditions, let them live 'in the clear sunshine of 
truth, or amid the pestilential vapours of error 
and ignorance, and the life that is in them, the 
real God-given life, will always blossom out into 
beauty and fragrance. There is an individuality 
about them which will assert itself, which no 
external circumstances, no accidents of birth or 
fortune, can destroy. 

Other people, again, are like musical instruments, 
totally dependent for harmony or discord on the 
finger that touches them. To a master-hand they 
will yield the grand sweet chords of faith and 
reverence, the pealing anthem, or the psalm of 
praise. Let another play upon the keys, and the 
idle song, the rattling dance tune, is all that he 
brings forth. You do not know what to expect 
from them. They will give just what you have 
the power to take, and no more. You may make 
them what you please, and gather from them what 
you will of harmony or discord. 

Such, to a great extent, was Alice Grey. 
There was that in her which responded to the 



st. olave's. 303 

beautiful and the noble, but only so far as the 
master-hand brought it out. When David Bruce 
played, the music was sweet and solemn, and 
listening to it, he forgot that the instrument could 
yield tones less worthy. Now another had the 
keys in his power, and it was well that David was 
not by to hear, for the tune was babbling and 
meaningless. Graceful still, though, and not 
without a certain sweetness, even as a well-strung 
harp cannot answer to the idlest touch without 
some hint of the melody that is latent in it. 

" I see the days of Ruth are not yet quite 
gone," said Mr. Scrymgeour, playfully, as he 
touched a single wheat ear, which had clung to 
Alice's dress. "You have been busy with the 
gleaners to-day." 

Alice took it up and played with it, turning it 
carelessly round her fingers. Ah ! how far back 
that walk through the corn-fields seemed now ! 
How long ago and almost forgotten that steady, 
earnest look which David Bruce had bent upon 
her as they stood side by side in the narrow track. 
Plow the whole scene had dwindled down into 
a mere speck on the disc of Memory. And yet it 
was scarce three hours ago. 



304 

Alice coloured a little, just a very little ; but it 
was getting dusk in the oriel room, and neither 
Aunt Amiel nor Mr. Scrymgeour noticed it. 

" Yes/' she said, carelessly, ' ' I picked up one 
or two ears of corn as we came along the fields 
from Norlands tower. How pretty the country 
begins to look now that the reapers are at work, 
and there seems to be such a good harvest/' 

" That is well/' said Aunt Amiel, " I hear it is 
very abundant. The Dean was speaking only the 
other day of having the Thanksgiving read in the 
St. Olave's churches next Sunday. I hope he will 
see the Bishop about it." 

So the conversation got into a different track, 
and whilst Aunt Amiel and Mr. Scrymgeour talked 
about ecclesiastical regulations and the possibility 
of the order for Thanksgiving being issued through- 
out the diocese before next Sunday, Alice slipped 
the wheat ears quietly into her pocket. They 
were not quite so precious now as they had been three 
hours ago ; still she would take care of them, for, 
after all, that walk through the corn-fields had 
been pleasant. It must not be quite for- 
gotten, though she did not care to dwell upon it 
at present. 



st. olave's. 305 

Strange, how many half-open doors lead ont into 
the corridor of a single quiet evening's talk ; but 
the merest accident, the turn of a sentence, the 
speaking of a word closes them again, and we 
never know the great secrets of pain or pleasure 
which they have shut away from us. 

The rain kept on, not very greatly to Alice's 
disappointment, for she enjoyed the merry chat 
with which the hours were passing. It was not 
until after supper that Aunt Amiel would allow 
Mr. Scrymgeour to take his departure. Alice 
went into the hall to open the door for him. As 
they two stood in the lamp-light, he shook hands 
with her, and said in those musical tones of 
his — 

" May I come and inquire after you in the 
morning ? It will be pleasant to know that we 
have not forgotten each other." 

Alice held down her head and murmured out 
some sort of reply, which, whether Mr. Scrym- 
geour heard it or not, he interpreted as favourable 
to his request. Then after coming back for one 
good-night kiss from Aunt Amiel, she ran away 
to her own room, where neither the pelting of the 
pitiless storm, nor any thought for David Bruce, 

vol. i. x 



30G st. olave's. 

nor the memory of all that had happened during 
the day, prevented her from sleeping soundly 
and comfortably until morning light. 

Ah, Alice Grey ! your young heart will not 
break vet. 



END OF VOL. I. 



(*